Back to California and back to my job and school. I had settled into the idea that this was the new norm. I found things to do when he was away on business but he had decided that it was time for him to start making a career change. He was doing so well at work that he told me he was going to start doing side jobs on some of the equipment that he sold rather than send it back to the company for repair. He established an LLC and set up a P.O. Box to conduct business. I guess his rationale was if something needed to be fixed and he could do it, why not bill them and get paid directly? I just listened and watched him set it all up. It was working out well and the extra money was good. What are we doing with this money we are saving? We still have not talked about “our goals” as a married couple. It was clearly about dollars at this point. There was a lot going on in his family around this time and his father, who had been very ill had passed away. We flew home immediately to deal with that. I remember how incredibly intense and emotional that funeral was. Honestly, it was too much for me. I stayed in Pittsburgh for maybe five or six days but I needed to get back to Los Angeles. I didn’t have that much time off from work and I had finals approaching. It was about this time that the dynamic of our marriage starting changing drastically.
When he returned back to L.A. he started mentioning another man’s name quite often in conversation. It turned out that he knew him through work and they had struck up a friendship of sorts. I am not sure to this day what gain he got from this man but suddenly we were front and center with anything they planned. We went to Palm Springs for a weekend with his family. We would visit them back in Los Angeles and then we became part of the USC Alumni crowd by association. This new friends father in-law was the president of the Alumni foundation and he included us in everything. We got tickets to every home game on the 50 yard line and we sat with the large donors to USC. The first season that we knew this man he hosted a picnic for all the incoming freshman football players. It was nice but the following season he hosted an alumni “Meet the team” party at his house in the Hollywood Hills. Now am I going to go off the rails here for a bit because not every memory is horrible. This day was one of those days where I saw for the first time how the filthy rich live in Los Angeles….and I still have the pictures to prove it!!!!!
Here we are heading to the Alumni Football Kickoff Party (or whatever the hell they called it) and my brother in-law was visiting us from Pittsburgh and was in tow. We drove up the hillside and if you have ever driven into the Hollywood Hills, it’s kind of intimidating. The house wasn’t quite at the top but pretty darn close. We were greeted at the door and when we walked in I am certain my mouth fell to the floor. My brother in-law was as blown away as I was and we would soon make a great pair investigating every corner of this mansion we could get to. But first, let’s say hello to all the people. As we walked through this grand room I happened to look up and notice a balcony very inconspicuously tucked into the corner. “What is that for?” I asked our host. He replied “That’s the orchestra pit.” I glared at my brother in-law and although we didn’t speak, he understood the mission. We are finding the steps to the orchestra pit! I am pretty sure I was giggling. Then we arrived to the upper balcony/deck of the home and before my eyes was the city of Los Angeles for as far as I could see. The view was spectacular! There was a large concrete deck/patio beneath us with an in-ground pool that featured a built in swim up bar. I am not suggesting this was your average Tiki Bar that you are thinking of. No. Think, Las Vegas hotel swim up pool with pool stools to sit on while you have your cocktail served by the hired help. There must have been at least 20 tables between both decks and all the umbrella’s were either gold or cardinal red. Half the football team had already arrived. I knew exactly five people there. The rest were strangers. No matter. It’s time to socialize! The food was spectacular and the alcohol was flowing. We were in our bathing suits sitting at the bar drinking. Someone pinch me. Where am I? Whose life is this? We were about 2 hours into this shindig when my brother in-law said “let’s go look around.” Hahahaha…we ran through the house with towels wrapped around us trying to not drip water everywhere and we spotted our first doorway to the left. We stopped, opened the door, and then stared at each other. What the hell is this room? We cannot identify its use. What is that GIANT guilded chair doing in this room? Holy shit. I looked at him and said “There is no way that’s a toilet!” We approached it like alarms were going to sound off. OH MY GOD…it’s a toilet! You know, had this been this day and age of social media I would have gone live on facebook. We tried for a couple minutes to figure out how to lift the top of the chair to sit on the toilet. We were laughing so hard. It was literally the size of a throne. To this day I have not seen another like it. After satisfying our curiosity we left the “throne room” and found a very discreetly hidden door. What’s this? Let’s look. Well I’ll be damned! It’s the hidden staircase to the orchestra pit! Oh yes, we went up there! We are on an amazing adventure! I did have a camera with me and for the record, I do have pictures from this day. I laugh whenever I stumble on them. You can see me drinking in the pool and various other photos but the ones that make me chuckle were taken in one of the guest bedrooms. We kept walking down the hallway and every door we found, we opened. We made it into one of the bedrooms and we posed all over the room and took pictures. That bathroom in that room had everything you needed to freshen up. The vanity area, which was probably 500 square feet was supplied with hair products, make up, perfume, nail polish, toiletries, whatever the guest may need. There were also men’s items there as well. Every detail was thought out.
Is anyone looking for us yet? That was a great day. We enjoyed all our invitations to all the USC games but at some point that friendship went away. I will explain a little later in my blog. For now, I just wanted to point out that when I had company to be silly with, it was a treat.
I have a few other fun memories. Just a few. I will share those another time. I just want you to know that between the sadness there were glimmers of happiness, but it just wasn’t enough to stop it all from unraveling. Sometimes that what makes it difficult to walk away. You find yourself second guessing your decision and you hold on to the hope that all the bad will pass. When the bad moments start out numbering the good, you have to make the tough decision. I was financially at his mercy (by his design). He used to tell me everything was his. It makes me sick to remember it all but even if one person understands this story as I go, then it is validated.
For now I was riding the wave. His new side business was proving to be a good thing (even though I’m thinking it was illegal) and I’m just following along for whatever fun moment I can grab. Still no real goals for our future but I am about to throw a wrench into all that soon enough.