Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Waltons: Always on the Move...From the Beginning Cont.

John’s early occupation required a lot of travel. Growing up Peter moved about every two to five years. John would settle into a new job; the family into schools, activities, friends, trying to establish a community and then John would find a better job or need to leave for unidentified reasons. Peter later speculated it was likely due to affairs with secretaries or other women that would had have affected his job and/or reputation if they stayed.

I have known John Walton for 26 years. For 24 years (of course I don’t interact with the family any longer) I observed him to be unsettled, discontent, and not concerned with anyone else unless they benefited him in some way. He demanded center stage, continual praise and would become agitated or downright aggressive if not in that position. I know of over a dozens moves in those 24 years and not always accompanied with a job change. John Walton bought homes above his means and then would need to borrow money from the church, relatives or friends, rent an apartment within the home, or scale down for a while. They would move down the street, across town, to another city or another country. All moves required new decorations, window treatments, rugs, fixtures; always the best and generally on credit. John Walton dressed impeccably, with the latest fashion, right down to eyewear. I don’t recall ever having a sense of comfort with any of the Walton men; all were on the financial treadmill making sure appearances established that, yes, they were better than the rest of us. Though they prayed before every meal and quoted scriptures often, especially when at odds with the latest enemy, it felt superficial and empty, lacking love, empathy or intimacy.

I was working at the local radio station, where I had begun my journalism career as a freshman in high school. My first news cast was at 6am, which meant I was on the road by 4:30am. Then I could be home to watch my daughter by 2:30pm. When I graduated from college Peter decided our apartment was too small with a toddler so we moved down the road and in with John and Elaine. After about six months of a very uncomfortable existence, John announced that he and Elaine were moving back to Canada. Peter’s younger brother was forced to graduate from high school as a junior to avoid changing schools for his last year. There was no consideration for others, even children; when it was time for John to move, the family moved. There was no talking through any problems or discussions because that requires intimacy/a relationship so this move could’ve been simply because we lived with them and they wanted to avoid a “real” conversation. Or it could’ve been to avoid a problem or relationship in the church. Who knows? All we were told was that “it would be better if we didn’t return to the church where John was a pastor and moved on like the younger brother.” We abruptly moved to a little town about 20 miles down the road so Peter could start a Master’s Degree in History.

I continued work at the local radio station and Peter started graduate school. We had been married two years and this was our third move. We could not make ends meet. The first heat bill of the winter was about 300 dollars. Peter decided he would take a semester off and start a modeling career. He spent nearly 1,000 dollars paying fees and having professional pictures made. Meanwhile, I went to the local health department and received Women, Infants and Children support, food stamps and tried to get heating help. It wasn’t enough and Peter was not making any steady money modeling. I got a new job at a better radio station and as soon as it looked like I would be promoted to a drive-time anchor position, I became pregnant with a second child. Now, I was up at 4:30 for a 6am news cast start and had to find time to vomit before the top and bottom of the hour news casts. They kept me part-time and we could not make ends meet.

When I was five months pregnant I was driving to work at 4:30, the roads not yet plowed and no one out, I ran out of gas. I had to walk about a mile to the nearest gas station with some change I found on the car floor. Of course I was crying by the time I got to the station. The young man at the counter paid for a few dollars of gas so I could get to the station for my first news cast. I delivered my first news cast and then lost control of myself sobbing in front of the morning news personalities; I didn’t know how I would get home. The male radio celebrity approached me later in the day and gave me 10 dollars for gas. He then asked me if I had anything for lunch... I rarely did. He gave me another 10 dollars. There was a food court on the first floor and during my lunch break I nearly ran downstairs. I ate for the entire 30 minutes. Periodically, during my pregnancy, I would find five dollar bills in the radio board, where I delivered my news casts. Peter took no responsibility for providing for his family. He was “modeling” sporadically and was back in school. One day while I was waiting for Peter to pick me up, just outside the food court, a homeless man approached me and asked for food money. He said he was starving; I looked at him and said, “so am I.”

At six months pregnant, I decided I had to find an additional job. I am a survivor and a problem solver and I was tired of my existence. I interviewed at a local television station for a producer position. The news director took one look at my belly and said "what are we going to do about a maternity leave"? Being desperate, I bargained that if he gave me the job I would only take two weeks off. Based on my qualifications, he agreed.

I gave birth to another daughter. I worked nearly two full-time jobs and took care of my daughters when I wasn’t working. I would leave the radio job and drive straight to the producer job. I was nursing and with news casts at the top and bottom of the hours it was nearly impossible for me to pump. So I was usually uncomfortable the entire shift. I would pump on the drive between jobs. With television, everything builds, with the climax at the end of the shift. One evening we had breaking news and I was pumping. I didn’t hear them paging me. I was chastised for not being available and my job threatened.

When my second daughter was about four months old, the weekend anchor left for a job with CNN. I was asked to train for the weekend anchor position; the ideal candidate with my producing experience. Weeks after my training began, Peter announced that he was praying and the Lord told him to go to seminary. And we moved again to another state a few months later. We arrived on Monday, I started a reporter/producer position on Wednesday of that same week. Peter took a break before he started a second Master’s Degree. He thought a counseling degree “to help me” because I was so mentally ill.

1 comment:

Thank you for your comment. Positive feedback and helping those that have experienced the same tragedies are what keeps me going.