I don’t even have a photo of it- the white wood frame house we all lived in. There was a living room, equipped with an old pull out couch (read sofa -sleeper), a small kitchen with a toilet that wouldn’t flush, hiding behind a curtain. There was a bucket in there that one filled up with water and poured it into the toilet it , thus making it flush. There was a dining room table with a room off of it where Mrs. Pottratz lay all day. I never understood what her illness was or if she was just a depressed individual , who lay in bed day after day , night after unending night with very long toenails. She smiled at me from time to time, but I was kind of afraid of her. I couldn’t understand how she lay there day after day and I never asked. Les was always good to her as was his father. He seemed to be a patient sort, making comments only when he realized we couldn’t live off of them forever. He was a smallish boned quiet man from what I remember. But, he did from time to time let us know when they were running out of supplies and needed to chip in. Those trading stamps we got at the gas station came in quite handy when supplies were low as we could trade the, in for Hamburger Helper and it’s new companion Tuna Helper. yum, yum! Les and Doug went to school together I think and I liked Les. He was real about who and what he was- just a hard working guy- overweight with a beard and a sweet side to him. He loved his mother and dad and I had to admire him for that.
Outside, close to the lake, was a wooden outhouse. I’d never really seen one. It was basically a tall building with a toilet with no end to where the bodily fluids went. I guess it was convenient, in case you were out fishing or shooting a rifle (which i tried.) At 99 lbs, that gun threw me backwards and Doug thought it was funny. I didn’t and I had not been warned about it, I kicked him where it counted. I didn’t know what damage it could do- i was a 16 year old virgin , who was only copying what I’d seen in the movies. I was keenly naive- no sense of these things at all. All i knew was I thought he was kidding me when he bent over and fell to the ground. I never did it again, that’s for sure.
Generally, when we went to bed on that comfy sofa couch, we would engage in a bit of pillow talk. Even though it was pitch black when we turned off the lamp, I could see his eyes becoming bigger and looking at me with the whites showing. Suddenly, in a voice not his own, I heard an eerie question come from him- “How does it feel being married to a schizophrenic?” What did that mean? Was he trying to scare me? Was he really mentally off? For the first time since our journey began, I was afraid of him . What had I done? What would I do? Confusion abounded . I was far away from the safety of my family. Just what had I gotten myself into ? I turned over and fell asleep- a natural defense for a long while in my life.
My parents had left a message on the Runaway Hotline. They would drop all charges if I would give them my address so they could send me all my medicine, I had no reason not to believe them and they remained true to their word. My medicine1 got there in just the nick of time. I could tell they were heartbroken over my choices, but knew they were happy I had been responsible enough to think to take my medicine in the first place. Whether one knows it or not, when one is a hot tempered person, the thinking is not always rational. I didn’t want to take any chances with any sudden withdrawals of any anti seizure meds. It didn’t take long to get the meds and it didn’t take long before I found out I was pregnant. I was ecstatic. I would have someone who depended on me, who loved me no matter what- someone I could teach, love, learn from and cuddle. When I called my mother to tell her the blessed news, she was less than excited and suggested an abortion. I was horrified, but too young to realize that the reality of a pregnancy at a naive , tender age of 16, to her, signaled the end of my youth- a time in which I should be having fun and living life to the fullest – school dances, proms, college. For me, a time of celebration . For her and my dad, a time to grieve what could have been.
Snow was still on the ground when we left for Texas the second of June- right after we married that Sunday at the Justice of the Peace’s house in Luck County , Wisconsin. Beautiful area, but still cold as it could be. I was so excited to be going home. I would imagine Doug was a bit scared. I could not wait to see my parents. What a great day it would be.