This is the church property I cut through that morning. The priests live in a house up behind the church and now since I lived there they have a great hall where they hold other events. I came down through the woods past their house and headed out to the highway.
Here are the last two paragraphs I wrote in part III.
It was a bright sunny morning at the end of February and quite cold, with snow frozen on the ground. Shortly after 8 a.m., I locked the house and headed out the back door with just the clothes on my back and my pretty suede pocketbook. I cut through the woods that bordered the back of our property and through St. John Vianney’s church property, out to the highway where I stood and put my thumb out for a ride.
Seemingly, in a matter of seconds…someone pulled over and I got in the car, leaving my home in Stockholm-headed for the Jersey Shore.I don't remember anything about the car, maybe that it was an average size but nothing that stands out in my mind. I was nervous and maybe even a little scared when I saw the car pull over for me. There were two guys sitting in the front seat. They wanted to know where I was going and when I told them, the driver said they would take me as far as the NJ Parkway. (That was about 50 minutes or so depending on traffic from our house.) I agreed and so the passenger got out and gestured for me to go sit in the middle-between the two of them. And so I did and then off we went.
I was nervous at first but then they seemed nice and I relaxed. They told me they lived in Summit lake, which was the lake next to ours. They asked me how old I was and told me they were both 27. They both had dark hair. And they were wearing jeans. I know they both spoke with me but it's the driver I remember most. I don't know why. Maybe he engaged me in more conversation.
A Four Seasons song came on the radio and I asked if I could turn it up. The driver started talking about them and told me he was good friends with Frankie Valli. At one point my eyes met the driver's eyes in the mirror and he told me I had pretty eyes. That is all I remember until we got near the parkway. Now we were on Route 3 getting close to the parkway south exit.
The driver said to me, "Whatever you do...DON'T hitchhike on the parkway because the police will pick you up. You have to stand right by the exit." I said o.k. and thanked both of them. His friend let me out. They drove away. I hated seeing them go. I was feeling really scared now...but determined and I intended to keep going... no matter what.
After what seemed like forever but was probably only a couple of minutes... if that...a car pulled over. The window went down and an older business man leaned over and asked me where I was going. I told him I wanted to go to the Brick Township High School at the shore. He said he would take me but that I had to go with him to Elizabeth first because he had some business there. I agreed, got in and off we went.
I don't remember any conversation with him. I remember he had sandy brown curly hair and a long tan coat. I was more nervous with him then the other guys. You'd think it would've been the other way around because the 1st car was 2 guys to one girl and I was stuck in the middle whereas there was just one man and I was sitting near the door. Maybe because he was older.
When we got to Elizabeth I had to wait awhile in the car and I was nervous then too and actually glad when he came back out of the building. He did just as he said he would and brought me to my school. I thanked him and headed into my school.
I got there in time for the last class of the day and ran into a friend who brought me to her music class and hid me in the closet with the instruments. It was so nice to see my friends again and since I couldn't go home, I asked someone to bring me to the bowling alley. I figured I would hang out there with that older couple until some of my friends came in later that night.
I can still see how the sun was shining in the big windows into the snack/arcade area. I was also feeling out of place. It was all so familiar but I felt different. I also didn't have a plan. I had no idea where I was going to spend the night or who was going to bring me home. It really was all a stupid desperate move on my part.
Finally it got dark and soon the regulars started coming in. It felt good to see them but even that seemed different. And here I was a FOURTEEN year old girl hanging out as the only girl with these guys...in a bowling alley with no where to go.
And you know...they wore black leather jackets and some years earlier they would've been referred to as hoods. They weren't going to college. They worked, hung out, drank and whatever. I really didn't fit the type you would expect to be with them but I was too misguided to realize it. Obviously James Dean died way before this, but they were a type like that. They wore the white T shirts, cigarettes under the short sleeves and really looked like the guys in the pic above. I was friends with other regular boys, but these are the ones I was with most of the time.
However, one that liked me and I him was more of a cowboy type because they worked with horses and baled hay etc. He wore plaid shirts, jeans,boots and a cowboy hat. He was only a couple of years older then me. His mother used to invite me for dinner. I was this little vagabond of the 2 neighborhoods because I never really knew where I was going to end up. Some years earlier there was a Four Seasons song called "Rag Doll" that they would still play on the radio occasionally and the lyrics reminded me of me. I wondered if that was how people saw me. I was so secretive about my life, but I had so little compared to my friends, I was afraid it was obvious.
That night Bill (the guy who was always so nice to me) said he would look out for me and bring me home. It had gotten very cold out. He brought me back to his house and put a TV dinner in the oven for me. Both his mother and girlfriend were working. He brought me over to the piano where we sat together and he showed me how to play the background music to the Doo-Wop songs. He said it was the same background music to most of those songs. I still remember how to do it although not as good as him I am sure. :)
It was getting late and he said we had to leave because his mother would be home soon. So we went out into the cold night and back into his car. It was a light blue convertible. He drove us to a secluded area not far from our houses where we parked for the night. he would turn the car on and off for heat and I ended up nestling under his arm because I was cold. We fell asleep that way. The daylight woke us up and we talked awhile. Then...he leaned over and kissed me on the mouth. I was surprised because he had a girlfriend but I kissed him back and we kissed for a few minutes. But we stopped and after a few minutes he said he would walk home to wash up and then comeback to take me home.
I was actually excited that I would be showing him the lake and where I lived. It was just so different from the shore. After awhile I began wondering what was taking him so long and was getting concerned but then saw him walking toward the car. But...as he got closer I could see he looked upset and wondered what was wrong with his face.??? When he got in the car, I could see he had a lot of tiny cuts on his face and his throat and little tiny tissues stuck to the drying blood. I had never seen that before and asked what happened??
He said that he had just gotten in the door when the phone rang. It was around 7 in the morning. He answered the phone and it was my mother on the other end of the phone really upset and she wanted to know if he knew where I was. He told her he didn't. She proceeded to tell him that I ran away and that there was an APB out on me and for him to call her if he knew anything. He was so shaken up by the call that when he tried to shave...he cut himself everywhere. That poor guy...he must've been so scared that he was going to get into trouble and here he was so sweet and really looked after me. You know come to think of it...he was always doing something nice for me.
I don't remember if he brought me home or if I walked.
I don't remember walking into our house but I remember getting an "O-h-h PATTY...sad sigh from my mother. I do remember standing in the kitchen when she called my aunt and uncle and then I had to get on the phone and talk to my aunt. I was afraid because even though we got along very well...she was no one to cross. I tried to explain that I wasn't running away but I don't remember anything else she said on the phone but this..."Alright...if YOU want to TRAMP around the streets...then YOU can just STAY down there until your uncle decides he is GOOD AND READY TO PICK YOU UP!!!" Then she slammed the phone down.
I felt so sad inside but I didn't let on to my mother. I thought..."I'm NOT a TRAMP!" I was really hurt about that. I was still the girl who believed in staying a virgin...but they didn't know that.
The reason they thought I ran away is because our next door neighbor saw me leave the house and head into the woods. My aunt probably had her watching me. I didn't anticipate that.
And I was afraid to see my oh so strict uncle again. And every day I waited with intense anxiety...all day long...every day (8 days) until the following Saturday...wondering if this was the day he was picking me up.
I don't remember anything else about that week. I don't remember being in the house, being with my mother or even sleeping in my bed. I don't remember being with my friends. The only thing I remember is that it was a cloudy day when I walked into my shore house and it was a cloudy day when I left. I don't remember saying good bye to my mother, the pets or my friends. it's all a blank. And I never saw Bill again. I never saw any other friends again except for two of them and have long since lost touch with them.
The other thing I remember about that awful week was that for as much as I wanted to be down the shore...I felt like I didn't belong there anymore. Yet...I didn't feel like I belonged at the lake house either. I just felt so out there. I didn't belong anywhere.
My uncle picked me up the following Saturday and again we didn't talk for the entire two hour trip up here. The side of his face and neck was moving though. He must have been seething with anger.
When I walked into the living room, I saw that my aunt was sitting on the far side of the room, looking down at what she was crocheting and I thought I was going to be able walk past her into my room without her saying anything. I was right in front of her in hopes of making it around the corner when she locked eyes on me like a hawk after its prey. She looked over her glasses with fire in her eyes, not moving a muscle on her body and said in a cool toned stern voice, "IF-you-EVER-do ANYTHING like that again...we WILL put you in an all girls home." I never did anything like that again.
I loved them and did appreciate what they were trying to do but I was so unhappy that I was like a maverick in the stall, continually trying to bust out in one way or the other. They had their hands full until the school year ended.
After that event I now had to see the school psychologist on a weekly basis until the end of the year. But I actually liked that. I enjoyed the tests and talking with her. The 1st test she gave me was the house-tree test. That's where you are supposed to draw a picture with a house and tree. My house was in the middle of the paper while the tree was on the ground. She said that meant I saw my home life up in the air. I could've told her that without the picture. Then she did the Rorschach test...that was fun. She said my IQ was 125. And we talked a lot. She did help me. Years later my aunt gave me a card the psychologist gave them. In the note she said that I had made wonderful progress and that I would benefit from their continued good influence and I was college material. (I still have it) The guidance counselor had also been working with my aunt and said I should repeat my freshman year because my grades were so poor but that he thought it would do more harm. Instead he pushed me forward, although I did have to repeat English I.
And I became a happy girl during the summer and accepted that is where I was living and it was finally beginning to feel like home. I loved swimming and canoeing in the lake. I especially loved to tip it over with friends in it! ;)
Our canoe was green but my uncle surprised me one day by painting it blue because he knew blue was my favorite color. :)
My mother had moved up here and got a place of her own after awhile and I was given a choice to stay or go with her. It was with tremendous guilt that I opted to stay with my aunt and uncle, but for the first time in a long time I felt like I was part of a family and in a nice home. My mother didn't say anything to go against me. She moved out and went on her own. I never wanted to hurt her and I am grateful for her letting stay. She was/is my mother and while I didn't understand it then...I now know as a mother myself that it must've ripped her heart out. or...maybe she was secretly doing a jig. And I lived with my aunt and uncle in Stockholm for the next 6 years until my uncle gave me away on my wedding day.
So now I have just told the most painful and embarrassing part of my life. It could've been worse. I know that. And...I am grateful for every kindness and every good thing that came out of the experience.
It also helped me to be a good mother because I went out of my way to let our sons know I loved them every day of their lives. I still do when it's possible. I made it my mission to nurture and to keep communication open as well as have structure along with fun and laughter. I tried to be present for them as much as possible. Sure...I have made mistakes and I have regrets...things I could've done better, but above all...I know...they know they are loved very much.
And this is exactly why I find myself drawn to people who seem to be straying or hurting for various reasons. When it involves young kids or young adults...I have tried to be there to impart wisdom just as my aunt and some other adults have done and do for me. Sometimes just a hug, something to let them know someone cares. And listen...really listen.
I am also there for adults and many people have been there for me too. It's what life is all about...loving each other. Standing by someone and letting them know you believe in them even if they no longer believe in themselves. Reassure them that things will get better.
And I love to feed people and derive great pleasure in knowing that I have warmed someone's heart with a good deed.
I have always treated every every person equally and compassionately regardless of their appearance. The experience taught me compassion and not to judge people because we don't always have all the facts and things aren't always what they seem.
It's a good thing God didn't say yes to my prayers and let me move back or maybe I wouldn't be here today. It's true...be grateful you don't always get what you pray for. :)