Lucy, age 15
This is so stupid. A notebook isn’t a replacement for a mom. My guidance counselor is a total idiot if she thinks writing in a notebook whenever I want to talk to my mom is going to be a replacement. Whatever! Weekly appointments with her get me out of my last class early, so I’ll see her even though she’s a total and complete nit-wit. Here goes nothing.
Dear Diary Mom or replacement mom,
I hate you. Real mom, I hate you. You up and left. You filed for divorce when I was ten. Fine, you’re not happy in your marriage—get happy. Don’t fucking leave your kids! Don’t just up and pack your stuff and leave, telling none of us where you are going, and then drop off the face of the Earth.
You stuck around Woods until I was twelve. I saw you one weekend for pizza and swimming. Three years ago, you dropped me off at home and told me you’d pick me up from school on Wednesday to take me to the dentist, but you never showed up and we haven’t heard from you since. You’re a horrible person and you suck! You don’t fucking disappear on your children. I need you!
Let me catch you up on what you’ve missed. I started tagging along to parties with the boys because Dad works nights and I hate being home alone. You missed hearing about my first kiss. You missed me stumbling up the stairs, drunk off my ass and puking my guts out. That happened the night I went to my first high school party, three months after you left. I was in seventh grade when I became ‘party Lucy,’ and I’ve never looked back.
I drink, pop pills, and bed hop weekly. Booze and pills make me feel numb and make the pain of being abandoned by you and forgotten by Dad go away. Bed hopping makes me feel loved, even if it’s only for a night.
There, I said it, are you happy, Ms. Counselor lady? I admitted I drink, do drugs, and sleep around to not only feel numb but to feel loved. Can I stop writing in this stupid notebook now?
Lucy, age 16
I’ve written in this stupid diary for a year. It’s my 16th birthday, and I have three spiral notebooks full of letters to a mom who still hasn’t shown up.
I see my guidance counselor and a regular counselor once a week. I still drink, pop pills, and bed hop, but I keep my mouth shut about it in therapy. Over the summer, I spent sixty days in an outpatient program and cleaned up for a few months but then slipped into old habits. I’ll be honest, old habits are fun. Numb feels a hell of a lot better than hurting all the time and wondering where you are and what happened to you. I can’t imagine that you’d actually leave.
The boys think I’m wasting my time trying to figure out what happened. I found out that Dad still pays your rent. Other than Dad cleaning the food out of your fridge and cupboard, your apartment is exactly how you left it. I looked through your closet, and only a few things are missing, including your weekender bag. It looks like you packed for a weekend or a quick trip. If you were planning to be gone for good, you would have taken more clothes, right? You would have taken our favorite picture of the two of us in Italy, right?
Where are you? What happened to you? Mateo, Luca, and Angelo all say I need to accept that you moved on and started over, leaving everything and everyone behind. Cousin Gio lives with us now, and he says that he understands why I want to know what happened. Sometimes he’s the only one who cares about me.
Dad says he monitors reports in other cities. I guess there is a plus to having a dad who’s the County Sheriff; he can try to keep an eye out for you.
I’m sixteen today. Dad and Aunt Auriana planned a huge family dinner, the way we used to do holidays, birthdays, and Sundays. I miss those dinners, and everyone crowded in the living room and kitchen. I’m not getting a car or my license because dad caught me underage driving, so I’m not allowed to get a license until I’m eighteen. Auriana hired me to work at the flower shop after school two days a week and on Saturdays. She says if I do a good job and like it, I can work another day during the week.
I don’t have a boyfriend, but I have lots of ‘friends.’ Mel says I should stop having ‘friends’ and find a nice guy who likes me and enjoys spending time with me outside of bed like she did.
Lucy, age 17
Dear Diary Mom,
It’s my 17th birthday. My Junior year blows. I can’t wait to be 18, take my GED and get the hell out of high school. It’s awful. Last year, I told you maybe I would find a nice boy who likes me and wants to spend time with me. Well, that hasn’t happened. I did six months in rehab after wrapping Luca’s car around a tree a couple of months after my sixteenth birthday. Dad was dispatched to the scene. He freaked out, thinking it was Luca, then double freaked out when he realized it was me. Once he was done freaking out, he arrested me for drunk driving. Let’s just say he doesn’t trust me at all. Luca hates me because I totaled his car. Mateo hates me because Luca hates everyone now, and Angelo is a big old pain in the ass.
Thank goodness for Gio. He’s the only one who visited me in rehab every week on family day, brought me my favorite foods, played games, and attended a family session. Dad went for the last three weeks for the mandatory sessions for me to be released.
Since I spent six months in rehab, I can’t take my GED or graduate early, but I didn’t screw myself and have to graduate late or something awful like that. Rehab taught me that most of my family hates me and that I don’t have friends. Except for Mel. She’s amazing. Her boyfriend is a giant ass. I was wrong last year; I don’t want someone like him. There’s something about him I don’t like. He goes everywhere with her. It was sweet at first, but it’s bizarre. She can’t go anywhere or do anything without him.
Birthday party this year isn’t a fun family dinner. Dad has to work, and none of the boys talk to me. Will is in Seattle doing a tattoo apprenticeship. Gio lives with us now. He’s taking me to Slice House for pizza and pool when I get off work at the flower shop. Aunt Auriana helped me through everything. She’s encouraging me to learn the flower business because she said I’m talented at designing arrangements. She lets me set up weddings and special events by myself. I would have crawled into my closet and hid for the rest of high school if she hadn’t given me my old job back and arranged work experience credit, so I don’t have to be on campus an entire day.
Dad says there are no updates on you, but he keeps paying your rent. Deep down, he’s hoping you’re out there somewhere and will come home. I think he’ll pay for that apartment for the rest of his life or until he knows for sure that you’re gone.
Lucy, 18 years old
Dear Diary Mom,
It’s my 18th birthday. I still wish I were graduating early or taking my GED, but at least senior year doesn’t totally suck. I’m working at the flower shop half day each day. I only have four classes on campus, and then I get to leave. I’m taking one as zero period, so I get to leave at morning break. I love my job and Aunt Auriana. I live with her on the nights Dad works. All three of my brothers are giant assholes who won’t even give me a chance to apologize. I’ve changed a lot since I was sixteen and stupid. I’m trying—really, I am, but no one is giving me a chance to prove it.
Gio got a scholarship to Northwestern and lives on campus. He was the only one who ever did anything with me. I don’t know how I’m supposed to mend relationships if no one gives me a chance. This year’s birthday celebration is me, Mel, and Auriana. We are going to a movie and lunch in the City tomorrow.
Lucy, High School Graduation
Dear Diary Mom,
I graduated from high school today. Dad threw me a huge family dinner with all my favorite foods. All three asshole brothers actually showed up and brought presents. Gio even came. Dad said he was proud of me and how hard I worked and how much I changed. Will was doing some tattoo special event thing in Boston and then had dates set up in New York, so he missed the party, but Mr. Famous Tattoo artist promised he’d do whatever ink I want when he gets home as my graduation gift.
I start college classes at the community college in Badger in the fall. I’m taking
classes two days a week and then working at the flower shop three days and Saturdays. I was planning to move into Auriana’s house full-time once I graduated, but Dad said he wants me to stay at home, so I’m going to try that. Maybe it’s not too late to fix us.
There’s still no update on you, but Dad keeps paying rent. I still see my therapist, but not weekly anymore, twice a month. I haven’t had a drink, a drug, or a bedmate since I got out of rehab, so that’s good, right? It also means I haven’t kissed or gone on an actual date. Aunt Auriana says that I don’t need to rush. I’ll meet my guy someday and when I least expect it.
The best thing happened a few months before the school year ended. I made a new friend. Her name is Ally. She transferred to our school in January. Get this. Her grandpa was Mr. Parks, the super sweet old teacher that everyone loved. She lives with her Grandma now. We aren’t super close, but we had two classes together. I don’t know how I know, but I know someday we’re going to be great friends.
Lucy, age 19,
Dear Diary Mom,
Well, I wish things had stayed as great as they were, but I slipped. I slipped badly. Not drugs and rehab bad, but I definitely fell into Party Lucy ways. Dad stopped paying your rent and cleaned out your apartment. He moved everything into a storage thing he bought for our backyard. I freaked out when I found out what was in the new storage shed. I went to a huge Fourth of July party out at the lake and instantly turned into ‘Party Lucy,’ numbing the pain with booze. Thankfully Gio was in town and figured out where I was and stopped me from doing something idiotic. I didn’t bed hop, do drugs, or drive. Dad still got mad and kicked me out. I live with Aunt Auriana now.
Gio says that if Dad thought you left for good, he would have donated a bunch of your stuff versus moving into storage. Dad should have talked to me and not let me find out on my own.
This year’s birthday celebration is me and Mel at Slice House eating pizza and playing pool.
Lucy, January Just Because
Dear Diary Mom,
I went country dancing in Badger last night, and I met the most incredible guy. He was there celebrating his 20th birthday. Get this, he’s from Woods. He was in the class ahead of me. I remember seeing him a lot, but we didn’t run in the same party circles since I started partying early and then stopped when most people our age partied. His Dad owns Rocky’s, and he works the door there. Once he’s 21, he’s going to start bartending. He goes to the Community College and is studying Business and Computer Science. He thinks it’s super cool I want to be an investigative journalist. I didn’t tell him I want to do it because I need to find you.
Oh, his name is Tony, and he’s so nice, Mom. I’ve never had a genuinely nice guy in my life. He drove me home when he realized my ride had been drinking. Once we got to the house, he walked me to the door, unlocked the door for me with my key, and waited until I locked the door before he left. We’re going to dinner tonight—an actual date. I’ve never had an actual date where the guy picks you up, takes you somewhere, and brings you home. I’ve had dates to parties. But that was just a way for someone to think he had a guaranteed bedmate at the end of the night.
Lucy, 20 years old
Dear Diary Mom,
I’m 20! I’ve been dating Tony since that first date I wrote about. Things aren’t sunshine and roses all the time, but overall, we’re pretty good. He treats me so nice, Mom. He calls, comes by the flower shop, and we are on campus together one day a week, so he brings lunch for us, and we picnic. I love him. I haven’t said it. He did, and when I was surprised, he told me he knows he said it fast and isn’t expecting me to say it yet. I think I’m going to say it soon.
I’m seeing a new therapist. My old therapist was boring, and we both felt like I wasn’t making progress, so I stopped talking. It was time for a change. This one suggested meds to balance my mood swings, but I’m not sure I want to do that. We’re still discussing options.
I took Tony to a therapy appointment with me so he could understand everything. He tries to be patient even when I’m totally freaking out and wants to help me in any way he can. My doctor diagnosed me with anxiety-panic disorder and bipolar disorder. As if having bipolar disorder wasn’t hard enough with the extreme shifts, the anxiety-panic attacks on top of it are awful. Dad says it’s good we finally have a diagnosis, and everyone agrees I shouldn’t drink, but I’ll be honest with you, I do. Not all the time, but when things are awful.
Enough about the sad stuff. Tony is amazing. I told him everything, and he never judged me. We’ve been dating for almost nine months. I have a key to his house. Yes, HIS as in it belongs to him. He started renting the house he grew up in from his dad as soon as he graduated from high school, and now he’s buying it. I’m scared that everything about me has the potential to blow up and ruin us.
Lucy, 21 years old
Dear Diary Mom,
Tony planned the best vacation for my birthday. We went to Nashville! One of his best friends, Joey, is dating Ally. Yes, the Ally I graduated with and knew I’d become friends with. Well, Joey’s in the Army and stationed in Tennessee. Tony and Ally planned Halloween weekend in Nashville as my birthday trip. We had so much fun. We tried to convince Mel to come since she finally left her dumbass boyfriend, who treated her like crap, but she stayed home.
I’d love to say that things with Tony are easy, but they’re not. We seriously struggle because my anxiety makes me question everything about us, and I can’t trust him even though he’s never done or said anything that means I shouldn’t. It’s my mind fucking with me, but I can’t help it, and I can’t fix it. We have what I call a dramatic off-and-on relationship because I totally flip shit over nothing and end up walking out on him. He fights for me every time. He begs me not to go, and he shows up at my next therapy appointment to talk and hopefully fix things. I don’t deserve him, Mom.
Medication scares me, but it’s time to talk to my doctor about my options again. I wish I could talk to you. I wish I knew what happened to you. This notebook diary thing helps, but it still totally sucks because it’s not like the notebook talks back.
Lucy, 22 years old
Dear Diary Mom,
Last month, Dad and I opened the shed in the backyard. He said that since it’s been ten years; it was time to accept that we may never find out what happened to you. He said I could keep as much or as little as I wanted. I kept the photo albums, journals, a few of your super cute dresses and sweaters, all of your jewelry, and your favorite coffee mug. I figured if I kept a few things and used them a lot, it was better than keeping a lot and storing them in boxes. We donated everything else.
My therapist said it’s up to me if I still want to write the letters. I don’t know what I’ll do next year, but I had to write this year. I ruined things with Tony by completely freaking out because his best friend is a girl. He’s known her since kindergarten, and I can’t handle that. I’ve never had a guy in my life who wasn’t a bedmate, and I don’t understand that type of relationship, but mostly, I don’t trust her. She’s divorced, remarried, and on her way to divorce number two already. She’s twenty-three. It’s bananas.
Tony and I got into an argument because she stayed with him between relationships, and I said it was inappropriate. One day they’re going to wake up and realize that they are best friends destined for each other. He’s the greatest guy on Earth. He deserves someone who knows how to love, how to accept love, doesn’t freak out, isn’t a complete mess, and doesn’t turn into a party girl to numb the pain that she can’t put into words.
I don’t understand why he keeps fighting for us every time I walk out or freak and end things. He keeps coming back to me and fighting for me. I’m scared that one day, he’s going to decide I’m not worth it and leave. Everyone leaves. You proved that ten years
Continue Reading Tony & Lucy's story in "Back to You" (Woods Lake 7 - Tony & Lucy) available August 31st.