It starts with two high school kids named Bill and Val. Bill comes from a family of five kids who have moved around a lot. Before they moved to Endicott, NY, theyíd lived in Rhode Island and Maine before that. Bill has two older brothers, Joe and Doug. He has one older sister, Sandy, and one younger brother, David. His motherís name is Marj and his fatherís name is Joe Sr.
Val also comes from a rather large family. While Billís family is Presbyterian, Valís family is Roman Catholic. Valís mother Norma has single handedly raised Val and her five brothers Terry, Scott, David, Chuck and Dan and her one sister Karen, by herself. This had to happen after Normaís husband left her.
The kids were all happy on the outside when their dad left. Heíd been an abusive drunk and hit Norma a lot. On the inside, they were pissed and upset and sad. But they held it in and didnít show it, because the Sinclairs werenít much for showing emotions. That was their way.
So Bill met Val when they were freshmen. Bill got into a lot of trouble in school. Generally a bright kid, he didnít do his homework, he skipped the majority of his classes, but he could come into class and take a test and get an A. Today, Bill would be labeled as AD/HD and be given a drug to help him concentrate. Instead, while Bill grew up, he found a trade instead, something to occupy both his mind and his hands. He started fixing things.
It started with bikes when he was a pre-teen. As he grew taller and stronger in his adolescence, he advanced to anything with a motor. Boats, cars, tractors. He got fairly handy with fixing things. In fact, he could tear anything apart and fix it up better than it had been in the first place. Shop classes become the only ones he would consistently show up for at school, the only ones he got Aís in.
Val excelled in other ways. She played varsity softball and earned Honor Roll grades. You could say she was attracted to bad boys, because Bill would be one of them. With his class-ditching, beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking way, he would be named a rebel of sorts. But there was something about his self deprecation, the totality of his loyalty, the intensity of his green eyes, the burnished copper of his hair that got to Val.
As for Bill, Val would be his opposite. Straight-laced Catholic with a totalitarian mother, good grades, perfect attendance, five brothers?
Naturally, they fell in love.
Four years later, they were still together. Val graduated a year ahead of Bill. Bill wanted to spend the rest of his life with Val, and Val the rest of her life with Bill. They had to do it fast, too, because theyíd made a mistake and Val was expecting in the winter of 1980. December 8, 1979 with their respective families present and with a justice of the peace officiating in Joseph Taylor Sr.ís home, William Taylor and Valerie Sinclair were joined in Holy Matrimony.
January 9, 1980, their first daughter, Jamie Lynn Taylor, was born at 2:44 a.m. at six pounds, five ounces.
Bill missed the birth because heíd gone out for a pack of cigarettes. However, it wasnít his fault. The doctor had told him it would be hours before his child would be born.
Bill and Val struggle at 18 and 19 respectively to remain financially solvent. Bill still attends the high school because his mother is making him finish and get his diploma. He also works as an auto mechanic and attends classes at the tech school to gain his certifications. Val works as a secretary when she is recovered from childbirth.
In June 1980, without any huzzah, Bill graduates from Union Endicott High School. He elects not to walk in the ceremony and has the school mail the diploma to his mother. He says sheís the one who really earned it.
She still has it.
The next two years pass in a tumult as Bill and Val try and raise a baby and figure out who they are. After all, they are only barely into young adulthood themselves, only really kids playing dress up. What are they doing having a kid, anyway?
Val gets frustrated and moves to New Hampshire, leaving Bill and Jamie in New York.
Bill writes letter after letter, trying to figure out what heís done wrong to chase away his wife, what he can do with his kid, what heís supposed to do as a young husband and father. Val doesnít reply for a long time. Bill spends a lot of time getting in fights in bars. Fights so bad that he ďreds out.Ē He sees red and pummels the guy and other men have to pull him off so he doesnít kill anyone. Throw him in the snow to snap him out of it. Billís mom does her best to bring him back to reality. His sister Sandy is in school in New Hampshire, as is his brother Doug. Davidís still in high school, too young to help out, really. Joe Sr. isnít much for words and isnít home enough to help in action. His work provides well enough for his family but takes him away from them all too often. Marj runs the show and the boys know it.
Six months after Val left, Bill gets a letter from Val. She apologizes, says she loves him, doesnít know what came over him and asks him to move up to New Hampshire with her.
He goes right up to her. Why not? Sheís his wife, the mother of his child and he loves her.
Ten months later, on November 28, 1983 their second daughter, Aubrey Leigh Taylor, is born.
Now Bill and Val live in an apartment in Wolfeboro, NH, the Oldest Summer Resort in America on Lake Winnepesaukee. The town boasts a population of only 3,000 during the winter months. During the summer it doubles to 6,000 with vacationers. The apartment is on the second floor of a building with a butcher shop on the first floor. Next door is Hunterís IGA, where Bill works running the dairy department, no longer working as a mechanic. Val works as a waitress full-time at night, allowing for Bill to watch the kids at night and Val during the day.
This is when Jamieís memory starts. This is her first memory: She is hiding from her father. And she is scared.
Now Jamie is nearing her twenty-third birthday. She looks back at the tensions of Billís and Valís life right around the time at her four year old life. Billís work caused him stress because it wasnít what he wanted to be doing, it wasnít something that he was terribly good at, it didnít let him use his incredibly bright mind and boundless energy. His alcoholism has begun to take hold, heís still using drugs. Heís only nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, responsible for things most young adults arenít responsible for. Val, as usual, felt trapped. Her behavior, running away like sheíd done the year before, leaving her kid and husband behind, is evidence of that. It is also the beginning of a pattern that is repeated in Valís life over and over again where she keeps leaving Bill, sometimes committing adultery, sometimes not, sometimes taking the kids, sometimes not. Really, Val struggles with an undiagnosed mental illness of bipolar disorder. So Bill begins to blame his oldest child, whether or not consciously or subconsciously. He lashes out at her and uses that as another outlet for his stress. Val deals in other ways, the Sinclair way of completely keeping within herself and being totally unavailable emotionally. She completely shuts off. She doesnít offer hugs or pats on the back, affectionate rubs on the head, or even a holding of a hand. Itís how she deals. Itís how he deals.
Jamie is the harshest critic because she is their child. She will continue to judge them until they are dead because they are so troubled themselves that they could not provide her with what she needed. They are human beings. She loves them because of that.
Wow... that really made me think. In fact, I'm not quite sure what to say, really. I can't offer you advice, or say anything really wise or deep. I want to make some things go away, but I know I can't.
Thanks for the window, Mackillian. I just wanted to let you know that I did read it and that I'm glad for the window.
I am awed at the courage an resilience you show in leaving your heart tender to those who have hurt you so much, and still have the ability to hurt you. You are a hero in the truest sense. Not someone who doesn't fear or feel, but someone who fears and feels, yet acts anyway. ((mack)) Thank you.
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Oh, mack. I wish for you strength. I wish for you joy. I hope you and your financee will be able to form a family that gives you the stability and support you should have had growing up.
I've been worrying about you these last weeks. Between your sick and alone at Christmas thread, your thread about Lilo and Stitch, and now missing your flight to WenchCon. I know that you're smart and strong, but it seems like you're gettting hit pretty hard. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Dangit, mack, you forced me to have compassion for your parents. Why did you have to do that? It was so much easier to revile them in their villainous archetypes.
You know how I feel about you. It makes me sad that hugs will never give you the same simple joy that they give me. I wish I could give you a small measure of the unconditional love I grew up with. I also wish that I knew you when you were little, in some egomaniacal way, I think I could have given you some of that unconditional love you needed. Can I give you some now?
That was absolutely beautiful. To be able to show compassion for your parents, try to understand what they were feeling, after all you went through as a child...is just incredible. I'm so glad that I know you.
And have I mentioned you're a wonderful writer?
~Jane~ (who is really going to stop being all sentimental now)
Before this time (when I'm wide awake in the middle of the night) I have been unable to give a reasonable portion of my time to reading your post, and I didn't want just to skim it. I'm so glad I waited to do it right.
You rock, mack. There's much more I would say, but I'm unable to word it the way I wish (I've tried four times now and started over each time). I trust that you will face each moment of your life with the strength that I can see in the narrator of your story. Best wishes for all of your future, and the family you have the opportunity to create (I'm not just talking kids here -- I'm talking the miracle of marriage).
Once when Belle was but a young newbie to AIM, she was sitting up one night when her husband was at the fire station rather bored and trying to decide whether or not to go to bed. Then, the little chime sounded and mackillian from hatrack sent her a message.
Soon after, mackillian told her something that made Belle sad to hear but at the same time made Belle realize what a strong person mackillian must be. Thus began a friendship.
Through the last year or more (how long has it been?) Belle has discussed many things with mackillian - from depression to story ideas to which Lord of the Rings character is the cutest. When Belle, in the midst of depression wanted to quit writing forever - mackillian didn't let her.
No more third person - You are my friend, and I love you and I'm glad I know you. I wish you could have come to WenchCon. I wish I could see you more often. I wish, as do others, I had been as wise at your age as you are though I know that wisdom was dearly bought.
Thanks, Jamie, for sharing that with us. It's tough, sometimes, realizing what people need and not being able to give it to them. Or looking back on their lives and realizing how it could've been different with just a little help, less pressure, or something different.
But ultimately, out of their tragedy, the world got you. We're the lucky ones.
I still don't know what to say, exactly...I rarely do on things such as these. Whatever verbal skill I have seems to lie in much less important arenas, such as whatever socio-political issue/slop that comes down the pike. I love commenting on that stuff, perhaps because it's an emotionally safe, easy "risk". If you all catch my drift.
But I digress, and still I can't really think of what to say. All I can say doesn't really say half of what I'm thinking, except that I wish I'd known you longer, Jamie. Most people, myself top of the list, would've buckled under your ill fortune and stress, both personal and job-related and otherwise. I find myself consistently amazed at your Atlantean strength, and that instead of allowing your life to follow the most likely, unhappy outcomes people might guess at, you instead choose to possess wisdom and do good things with your life.
All I can really think of is that I wish NW Airlines hadn't thrown an idiot across your path to WenchCon, and that I'd gotten to meet you in person. I know I'm certainly not alone in that, but still, even on AIM, you're a person I feel privileged to know.