STORY 2, Part 3

This loss of status is creepy. It isn't just a marriage thing--it's a part of everything, like quicksand. At first, you think you still know who you are--perfectly all right, just struggling a bit with a nasty piece of luck. Then, ever-so-subtly, you begin to absorb the attitude of others around you.

It comes clear that the counselor never meant to predict a "brilliant new start"--he was being kind. They are all very kind as they advise you to "settle" for this, adjust your expectations about that. Pretty soon you are watching freedom disappear around you; you are sucked under by necessity.

Now any job will do, any place to live, as long as there is air. You are nearly invisible. You forget that you have once been a full participant, raised children, run a house, directed the Fine Arts Volunteers, had all the rights accorded the first wife; you gain weight, you look at the floor often. After one of those Welcome Inn visits, when the kids had left and I didn't have to work the Easter weekend, I decided to chance the Chocolate Mountains again. Just for one night. Take water in. A sleeping bag. Went to the Home Mart and bought a shovel and a big broom. A snakebite kit. A swiss army knife. Ready. Terrified.

The wind blew from the first light when I arrived--like hell all day long.