The Only One For Me, From The Diaries Of A Black Military Woman, 1977-1982
by Jacque Turner
1977 April I awoke on the day of my 27th birthday to the sound of a song by the Spinners: Since I met you Iíve begun to feel so strange Every time I speak your name that's funny You say that you are so helpless too That you donít know what to do Each night I pray there will never come a day When you up and take your love away Say you feel the same way too And I wonder what it is I feel for you Could it be Iím falling in love With you I donít need all those things that used to bring me joy Youíve made me such a happy boy And honey youíll always be the only for me Meeting you was my destiny You can be sure I will never let you down When you need me Iíll be around And darling youíll always be The only for me Heaven made you specially Could it be Iím falling in love With you...
Today, I was going shopping with Olivia, getting my hair cut, and going to the car rental people. They had given me a car with an expired inspection sticker. Then I would cash my paycheck and pay on my leather coat. It looked like it was going to be a pretty nice day.
It had turned out to be an interesting day, after all. My sister had seemed genuinely disappointed when I mentioned going back to the base to avoid running into Eddie. He had looked awful when he had dropped by earlier, as if he had been hung over or something. I didnít know how I could have bothered with him in the first place. I did get terribly lonely sometimes, though, but I would not be forced to lower my standards, ever again. I had felt degraded in every way possible since I had been trying to find someone who could be as good to me as Isaac had been. I knew he loved me, but he had gone ahead and married someone else. Whatever the reason, it had been crushing to hear about it. He had loved me; I knew it; I could see it in his eyes; I felt it in his touch. But, he had married someone else the minute I left for school. I had been so sure. How could I ever trust my instincts, my feelings, my judgment, again?
Sometimes, now, I felt strongly close to committing suicide, like last night. The loneliness and fear of aging alone and childless seemed to engulf me until I couldnít see any reason to go on living. Maybe, finally, I would be able to make something of my life. I felt like crying when I got letters from graduate schools, knowing that I would never be able to go. I would just have to start believing that in some other life I was able to be happy. For now, though, I would just have to survive as best I could. In time, maybe all the sadness would have transformed itself into some worthwhile emotion.
I took my physical today. It seemed to go well. Tomorrow, I would move in next door with a new roommate. I thought about going ahead with my plan to buy orchids for my Mama and sister for Motherís Day, even though I had lost the feelings I had originally had about doing it. That was one of those times when I would have to fight to stay as good as I knew I was. Sometimes, it felt as if just living was a thankless job.
Eddie called that evening. I was so glad I could have burst! Even though I was afraid to get in contact with him, I was so happy to know that I had left some kind of an impression on him. It figured that he would finally come looking for me after I had already made a commitment to be celibate until after I found out whether I had been accepted to officer candidate school. Next to Isaac, Eddie was the only man I had felt that I could fall in love with. But, now that I had to consider my own life and future without Isaac, I wondered whether I could afford to have any involvement with men. I wasnít on the pill, and I didnít believe that any other form of birth control was absolutely effective, so I just couldnít take a chance on getting involved; even though, when I thought about it, it was hard to think of Eddie without thinking about wanting to have a relationship with him. I had always thought we had a good relationship when we were together at school; although, at that time, I had been studying so that I could graduate and get home to be with Isaac. But Eddie and I were both Taureans, and very romantic by nature, so I supposed it was natural for Olivia to always be trying to play Cupid for us. Maybe it was just my romantic nature, but I thought that, if we had let ourselves go, we might have fallen in love. After Isaac, I was too afraid, now, to find that out. Too bad, in a way.
I finally talked to Eddie today. He sounded a little headstrong, as if he were searching desperately to believe in himself. I did think I could fall in live with him if I wanted to, but it would take a great deal of talking and listening. He seemed to be searching for a wife; I had always thought so, and I still did. I just didnít know if I wanted a husband anymore. A lot was going to depend on whether I got accepted to OCS. If I became too independent, I might not be able to handle belonging to someone else, out of fear, if for no other reason. I found a certain security in having my own sustenance, and I wouldnít want to be responsible for making decisions for anyone else. I would play it by ear. Time had brought me the virtue of patience, if nothing else. Besides, I was worth having a man come to me, for a change, for once in my life, and letting me know whether or not he wanted me in his life. I didnít feel that I had to chase anyone, because I finally had something worthwhile to offer. I wouldnít push Eddie to do anything for, with, or to me. It would be solely his decision, entirely up to him. And that was a promise I intended to keep.
I talked to Eddie again last night. He sounded so happy to talk to me, and so anxious to see me. He even implicated permanence to our relationship. I hoped he could come out that next week. I was so anxious to see him. I was so happy these days. Everything was going along very well.
Friday the 13th. I was going to try skipping breakfast for the first time in a month. Fasting once in a while is good for the system. I had had a dream that I had been included in a film about a famous man. I had been a novice policewoman, but my character on the film had been that of a very nervous girl, licking my lips a lot and coughing. The director told me light-heartedly that I had been considered for undercover work, but that the captain would probably reconsider after the saw the movie. I wondered what it meant.
I was slowly going insane, waiting every day for Eddie to call. Now, I was pretty sure he wouldnít even show up, even though my sister had a room for him to stay in. If he didnít, he didnít. At least my waiting for him was taking my mind off officer candidate school. I had bought a new, portable television today. It was a pop-up model. Now that I was starting to acquire some expensive items, I was more afraid than ever that they would be stolen. I would have to remember to lock them up whenever I was going to be leaving the barracks. My new roommate was constantly leaving the door unlocked, and I was just not that trusting of the other sailors.
I hoped Eddie would come. I would like to see him again. Sometimes, my mind slipped to Isaac, but I thought it was the memories of him that I loved more than I had loved him. I knew that the relationship between Eddie and me was a much healthier one, because we were helping each other to improve. If we ever got together seriously, I knew that we could have a stable future, mostly because I knew I would be willing to work at it. Who knew? Maybe I would get the chance to find out.
I had a dream that night that my Mama didnít want me to come home expecting to eat when I got there. I wondered if the dream was true. Probably not, but I didnít go home every day for the food. It helped to let someone else listen to my thoughts. Not only that, but the change of scenery made living on the Naval base more bearable. I wasnít going to try to write again while the radio was playing. It threw my concentration off.
Today was Eddieís birthday. I thought he was so highly intelligent that I was afraid to be around him for prolonged periods of time. I was already starting to feel mentally inferior because of the time I spent around Olivia. I had received a beautiful German piggy bank from Livvy for my last birthday. I hoped Eddie liked his present. I had spent a lot of time on it. I was getting more and more apprehensive about his coming. I would love it if he loved me. We both needed love in our lives, and I would be good for him. However, I knew I was an incurable romantic by nature, and I didnít want my illusions to run away with me. There had been a time already when the relationship seemed to be perfectly happy, but then turned me into a shambles when he went off and started a family with someone else. I was absolutely scared to death that it would happen to me again; not that Eddie and I hadnít been through a lot already. I was still hoping that we could make something permanent out of our feelings for each other. I knew that I was ready, but I didnít want to rush into anything. I wanted it to develop slowly, a little bit at a time.
I was having trouble staying awake, lately. I seemed to feel drowsy all day long. That, and a hate campaign against me started by Maria at the office, nearly destroyed my good mood today. I would have to fight not to let them get to me in the next couple of days. The news about my acceptance into OCS seemed to have fueled a fire of jealousy around there.
I was getting very nervous about seeing Eddie again. I was afraid that I had gotten ugly, or that my food wouldnít digest right, and the sounds from my stomach would embarrass me too much when I was around him. My sister was going with me to help me find my way to the train station, and I wasnít sure if that was a good idea or not. A sister wasnít exactly like a giddy girlfriend, though, and I could get lost without someone to direct me. I hoped he still cared. I hoped I did.
I was going to go out and mail a letter to Eddie. I wanted him to know how much I enjoyed myself when he came down. He had met the family, and he had impressed them. He was as handsome as I remembered, too. Actually, he was even better looking. Now, he was a little more stable, which was good. There was still some roguishness left in him, but that probably wouldnít go away. I was a little nervous at first, but that subsided quickly. I couldnít have asked for things to go better. We did everything we wanted to do, and we went everywhere we wanted to go. The time passed too quickly. Now, I would have to concentrate on not pushing anything too fast. I would get to go and see him after the next payday, if I could. I was hoping I could make something good develop out of the relationship. I thought that we were suited for each other. I would still keep a safe distance, though, for my feelingsí sake. I just couldnít stand to be hurt again, ever.
Tomorrow was the selection board. I didnít think I wanted to be an officer. It was just like everything else, though. I had to try, because it was all I had. All I had ever wanted was to go to school, get married, and have a family. I supposed nobody cared about what I wanted. Nobody ever did. If I did get to go to OCS, it would be the end of my family relationships. They were selfish and cruel. They were probably killing Grandma. She was in the hospital, now, probably because of Daddy. I had tried, but I didnít want to care about them any more. They had done nothing for me all my life. If I got the appointment to OCS, then I was through with all of them. They could have helped me, but they wouldnít. I felt that I was too good to be in the same family with them. The only good thing that would come out of it, if I made it, would be that I would be able to afford to spoil Eddie the way I wanted to.
Grandma died today in the hospital. I didnít think I would cry; I had been waiting for it for so long. I did, though. I had loved my grandma more than I realized. I was going to miss her.
The funereal was yesterday. I had never seen so many relatives from both sides of the family in one room together before. I had tried to call Eddie last night, but I didnít get an answer. I didnít understand or fit in with either of my sisters. I hoped I did get into OCS, because it would give me a chance to make a complete break with the rest of the family. I hoped Eddie would stay around. He was all I wanted or needed, now that Isaac was out of the picture. I couldnít understand why everyone would go to such bother to help my sister out, and do nothing to help me. The best thing to do was to disassociate myself from them altogether.
I had just about given up on everyone at home. I would have liked to be able to leave them alone forever. They hadnít even bothered to ask how come I hadnít come home yesterday, or if Iíd got caught in the storm. I supposed I was selfish, too, but they seemed worse. I couldnít even get a piece of bread from anyone at home. I just wouldnít go there any more. I could borrow from the coffee mess at work if I got tight for money. I hoped I could keep Eddie. I wanted someone to want my affections. If not, I would just give up completely.
I had just about made up my mind. I was going to try my best to get pregnant with Eddieís baby. If it happened the next time I saw him, then it would just happen. I wouldnít be happy if I went to OCS. On the other hand, I would be terribly happy if I were back in school. If I got pregnant, I would get out of here. I wanted a baby anyway, and I was sure I loved Eddie, so I would just see him as often as I could. If I made it to OCS, I just would; if not, it would be because I was pregnant, which would make me very happy, anyway. It would be a beautiful baby.
I knew I loved Eddie. I was still afraid to admit it to him, because I was afraid it wouldnít last. I wanted to be the mother of his children and to sleep beside him every night. I wanted to be good to him. He made me feel good just by listening to him. He always did. He wanted me to call him the next day. I wished it would last. I wished I could leave there and be with him now. If it were real, though, it wouldnít matter where we were. I had matured since Isaac. I could be faithful to Eddie and, at the same time, I was mature enough to know that things wouldnít always be easy between us. I would be willing to try, though. We would be good to and good for each other. I refused to rush things, though. Things would work themselves out. I would make sure I knew how he felt before I let him know how I felt about him. Patience, after all, was a Taurean trait.
All I could think about was having Eddieís baby. It was insane. If I had it, I couldnít possibly support it. I would probably be in terrible financial condition, and I would blow my chance for admission into OCS. So, how come I wanted to get pregnant? I knew I would be a good Mama, and the baby would be beautiful. When it came right down to it, I guess that was all that mattered. I had always wanted a baby, and I wanted Eddie to be the father. And that was it. Damn everything else!
I had been having some very violent dreams lately. I was being sexually assaulted in one of them, at a gas station. Last night, I had had a dream about fighting with a man who held sharp knives--one looked like a jackknife, and one appeared to be a surgical instrument. During the struggle, I had cut my fingers; it stung, and I could see the blood dripping from them. I could see myself holding my hands under running water. Thatís all I could remember.
Right then, I didnít feel like doing any work. All I could think about was Eddie and having a baby. I thought he was hinting at it during our last phone call. I had made up my mind. I didnít know how I could afford it if it happened before I finished OCS, but I would manage. I did have a degree, even though it hadnít meant much so far. I did know that, if I had a child to support, I would get off my rear end and make a real effort to take care of it. I wanted to have a baby for Eddie. I thought he wanted it, too. We would work out whatever problems might occur. I wouldnít let them get to be big problems. I would work too hard not to let anything get in the way of him and me. I was going to get the chance, too, because I refused to let it pass by without trying as hard as I possibly could.
I was on my way to D.C. by Greyhound bus. It would be a long ride, but worth it. I was due to arrive there at 9:00 p.m. I couldnít wait to see Eddie. Maria finally left the office on leave, and it was so peaceful there, I couldnít believe it. Things were coming together, now (Knock on wood!). Maybe I would end up becoming a normal human being, after all, with a husband, kids, and a house to be with my family in. I loved Eddie. I was going to tell him that.
I had a dream about Eddie that morning, but I couldnít remember it. It had been sexual, but it had had something to do with my insecurity about knowing whether or not he was going to stay around. I had had an overwhelming fit of depression on the way to work that had lasted all day. I just wanted out of there, so I could go to graduate school and come home every night to Eddie. If I could, I would chuck that whole job. But there was no way, outside of pregnancy, for me to get out. I didnít want to get pregnant under those conditions, though. Actually, I would love to have a baby at any time, if Eddie was the father. As long as he was around, I was going to try to have a baby. He had told me he wanted one, too. I would still have my same plans, no matter what happened. I would get out of the Navy and go to graduate school whenever I got pregnant. It would be all I would want. I would love to have a baby, and I loved Eddie, and I would love to have them both. If I could arrange it somehow, it would be heaven.
Eddie was so depressed when I talked to him last night. The trouble was, so was I. Now, I had just about arranged to go to D.C. and pick him up. I would feel fantastic if I could manage it. I knew it would make him feel better. It wouldnít hurt my feelings, either. I wished I could talk someone, like my roommate, or Mama, into wanting to leave tomorrow, instead of Saturday. I wanted to see Eddie and cheer him up, not to mention myself.
Eddie never called like he said he would. I was worried sick. I waited all day at work and all night at the barracks. I didnít want to call him collect because I knew he couldnít afford it. I couldnít afford to charge the call to Mama, either. I didnít know what to do. I was going to drive up there, but Mama wouldnít let me have the car. Mama was going to get Daddy to drive us all to my brotherís place; then, she got some crazy notion that we would stop at Eddieís on the way back, and they would let me run in and get him. Then, we could all go back home together--me, Eddie, Mama, Daddy, and my sisters and their kids! I gave up on that idea, but it still didnít solve the problem of what happened to Eddie today. I supposed he wasnít coming down, but I didnít know anything.
Eddie finally called. We decided to forget our plans to go to the Jazz Festival, what with transportation being such a problem. I would just go to his place the next weekend. I loved Eddie. He made me feel so good. I didnít know how I would last another week before I saw him. No one from the family had even called or come by, so I didnít know who went where. Riding the bus for such a long distance in all that heat just didnít seem to be worth the bother, just to turn around and go back home again the next day, so I didnít go. I wished I could quit the Navy and just go to D.C. and live with Eddie. I knew I would be happy. In time, maybe I would get my wish. Right now, though, I would just have to get by as best I could. I could always visit Eddie every other weekend. I couldnít wait until that week was over.
I finally got rid of Livvy for a while. I also got two letters from Eddie. I would finally get to meet his family. I hoped I didnít get too nervous. The administrative petty officer also finally made an effort to finish my OCS application. Maybe I could make a decision about my life now. I hoped I could get pregnant before too long. It would be a beautiful baby. The next few months would tell a lot.
Eddie told me he loved me that weekend. I met his family. They were beautiful, just like I had expected, and affluent. His father had been a judge before he retired. I noticed that Eddie confused talent with money. I loved him, too; I would have to tell him so, soon. I even thought that we made a nice couple. Right now, I was sick, so I was going to sleep.
My sister called me today because I said I never heard from her anymore. It was strange, but I didnít even feel the need to talk to my family anymore. I felt ridiculous about Eddie, too, because I wanted to run from him, just like he used to do to me when we were in college. I couldnít stay with him. I would never fit into the world he lived in with his family, and I couldnít be that much of a hypocrite to pretend to be comfortable around them. I was a freak! Because of my past, I didnít think I would ever feel comfortable around anyone. Why couldnít we have gotten that close before I left college and had to find out about Isaac and stayed home heartbroken all that time? If I had never gone back home, I might have been able to feel like I hadnít lived my life for nothing. I was ashamed of my life. I had prayed for Eddie, and I got him, love and all, but it was too late. I couldnít love him, and I would never be able to pretend that I did. I was just going to have to give him back, and then I was going to crawl back into my remote shell.
People didnít care enough to even bother to notice how confused I was, so I knew they would never notice my withdrawal. I was a coward, and I wanted to escape. No more sacrifices or disappointments, or trying to love and be loved, or to win someoneís approval. I just wanted to exist, without always trying to understand everyoneís emotions, or trying to get them to understand mine. Everything hurt too much, and I was tired. If I didnít share my feelings with anyone, no one would question them. I didnít want to have to explain my actions all the time. All I wanted was to be at peace. I wanted to be happy without having to worry about anyone else, just once in my life. I did love Eddie, but I felt that I was forced to change, and redirect, and second-think all of my feelings when I was around him. I wanted to be myself. I hated his dog, and the smells and the messes it made. I hated the cockroaches and the isolation in his apartment. I never felt as if I was a part of it all. I felt like a stranger when I went there. More than anything, I hated being dragged around the city whenever I went there. I tried to make him see that he and I needed to spend as much time together as we could, because we never saw each other for that long a time. We should have been alone with each other, so that we could get to understand each other. I needed to understand Eddie, to get inside his head, so that we could have a good relationship. I couldnít stand having to share his attention with that dog! That could come later. Right now, it was essential that we get to know each other. If I brought any of that up to him, he would probably get defensive about the dog, or take everything personally and get over-sensitive. I didnít know what else to do. We needed that time in college, and he kept leaving, so we lost it. Now, when we had another chance at it, he acquired, first, a dog, and then, a house with roommates. I had to leave him alone, because we wouldnít be able to establish a lasting relationship unless we had a great deal of privacy in the months to come. Unless I got a place of my own, and flew him there, I would never be able to accomplish that, and it was vital for us if we intended to be together. I almost thought he was subconsciously trying to keep us detached. I wouldnít write to him while I was away, until my instincts told me I should. Right now, they were all I had to go on. I loved Eddie so much, but I had been through too much already in my life with Isaac. I couldnít take the troubles that were sure to come if things continued in the direction they were going.
I had finished my work for the weekend. Now I was waiting to see if Eddie was going to call. We both had said so many things to each other that past weekend. He had said some things that had gotten to me. And then, there were all the things he hadnít said or done. I questioned whether I was being too critical, or if I was being critical enough. I wasnít impressed either with his family or with his new "housemaster." I didnít even want to go there again, because I felt so neglected. He said he thought I was too selfish towards him. I couldnít get into his head at all, so I didnít know what he thought. I would have liked to be alone until a decision could be reached, but Olivia was forever clinging. I had had about enough of her, too. I functioned best in solitude, or when I was involved in something completely off the subject. Eddie and I could make it together and be happy, but I wasnít sure either of us wanted to put forth the effort. Besides, my precious, precious time--all the time I could have started giving to him years ago--was slowly but surely dwindling away. I had unbreakable commitments now, not only to the Navy, but also to my own life and my future.
Things like sex and money didnít mean as much to me as they used to. Love was still something I felt I needed, but not desperately; not any more. I couldnít expend that much effort for it. I didnít want to pay the price of any more pain for failure if OCS didnít work out. Fear was what I fed off of these days. Whenever I could bail out of a situation before it became climactic, I would. It was so sad, such a shame, because my wants and desires were always so simple. I was just too much of a romantic to ever accept anything or anyone except for love. Isaac was the one I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with, but he was gone, living a new life with someone else. As I got older, I only got more stubborn when it came to compromising with anyone else. If Eddie would have just cared enough to make an effort for her, I would probably crumble like a house of cards, but he wouldnít. I always seemed to choose people who were colder than I was, so they never seemed to care. It was probably psychological. It gave me a reason to be self-destructive.
My conversation with Eddie over the phone last night had had a calming effect upon me. He would have to make a soul-searching decision as to whether he would accept me as a Navy member. He needed time to adjust to it. The idea was something that his mind had never had to perceive before, so he would have to take it a little at a time. For the duration, I would be content to listen to him rather than to try to persuade him in any direction. My acceptance to OCS was almost a certainty. Even if, at that late date, something went wrong, and I was rejected, I would still have graduate school and the money I had saved to fall back on.
I had decided to take my time and not to give up on Eddie. The going would not always be smooth, I knew, and the possibility of marriage might or might not come about, but Eddie would make a wonderful father. I did love him and, just as he said to me, I would rather do without than settle for less at that point in my life. Until such time as our relationship seemed to be completely doomed to failure, I refused to have any sort of a physical relationship with any other man.
I ran into Janet in the Navy Exchange restaurant. She was a lieutenant and a dentist, now, and she wasnít too thrilled about being in the Navy. They had paid her way, so now she had to pay her dues to them for three years. The OCS application was finally on its way. I had mailed it personally. The thought of getting out of that office was getting more appealing every day, I still wasnít going overboard until I had something on paper, though. I couldnít see Eddie for at least two more weeks. It was killing me, too. I wondered what I was going to be able to do about it. I hoped that would be the last time that we had to be separated for that long a time.
My roommate would be leaving tomorrow. Everyone in the office was going with her to celebrate. I was having doubts again about being accepted to OCS. If everyone werenít always bugging me about what theyíd heard, I wouldnít care. If they turned me down, though, I was going to have to put up with clichť phrases for the next 14 months. All I wanted to do was to be next to Eddie. I was sick of sleeping with a doll every night. I was fighting daily to keep the pressure from getting to me.
I had a very sensual dream that night that I was making love with Isaac. It probably suggested itself in that way because of my conversation with Eddie. We were both joking with many sexual implications. My dream must have related sex to Isaac because it was something we never got to do together, sort of unfinished business between us. I had loved him. I had treated him terribly. I would never stop feeling guilty about that. It wasnít in my nature to treat anyone badly. Thatís why I never talked about that sort of thing. I shouldnít have to explain my actions to anyone. The only time anything Eddie and I would do would be dirty would be if someone else stuck their noses in it. It was too personally beautiful to discuss, anyway, whenever I was with Eddie. I had never regretted being an incurable romantic.
Olivia was getting on my nerves lately. I was too much of a perfectionist to be able to appreciate the way Livvy couldnít handle her students. She just couldnít handle authority. As I had observed before, Livvyís mind was much too closed. I desperately hoped that I made it into OCS before I completely lost my mind in that office. I couldnít seem to shake Livvy, and she was becoming a constant annoyance. It wasnít helping me at all to put up with the people I had met in the Navy. Not one situation had yet to present itself that would cause me to have a favorable opinion about it. I found myself contemplating suicide lately, more than I was doing anything else. I was also losing contact with Eddie. There was nothing that I could do about that situation; I was just not free or independent enough to be able to control it any more than I was. What Eddie and I were experiencing at that time was inevitable.
I had to stand watch tomorrow, and I still hadnít heard from Eddie. I bought him a book of stamps. I would send us to him as soon as I heard from him. My sister stopped by. I probably would have stayed in bed all day if she hadnít. She even bought lunch. My money was working out pretty well that time, in spite of my Mamaís pushing for me to pay for using her car to get my leather coat out of layaway. I would never do anything like that again. From now on, if I didnít have the money, I wouldnít get anything. It looked like I was going to be alone again for a while. If I got accepted to OCS, at least I would be too busy to worry about my social life for a while.