My parents were due to return two days after Yvonne and I did our streaking run on the construction crane. We were both depressed about my parents coming back, because it meant she could no longer spend the nights with me.
With me, being away from my friend, or lover, or girlfriend, or whatever she was, was just emotional. I’d miss her, but I didn’t have to worry about my safety or what stress waited for me when I got home from school. I had a safe comfortable place to live and study. Most important, whatever their faults, my parents are decent and nice people, for the most part.
With Yvonne, not being able to come over to my house was much more than just missing my company. Her home-life was nothing like mine and she couldn’t stand being there. Over the first three weeks of our relationship, I had given her a place to stay that allowed her to avoid dealing with her “old man” and “that fucking whore”. From what little she had shared with me about her home-life, and the intense bitterness in her voice, I knew that whatever she was dealing with was pretty bad.
When she left my house, she was wearing her skimpy tight shorts and a sweat-suit top that covered her shirt. She had a back-pack full of clean clothes that she had washed in my parents’ laundry room. I assumed, correctly it turned out, that she was going straight to her job and would avoid going home as long as she could.
My parents came back from the airport just 30 minutes after Yvonne left. That did not give me enough time to make the emotional transition from having my friend with me to having my parents with me. They were their usual selves after a cruise: badly sun-burnt, carrying bags of souvenirs that would go into the garage and then be donated to Goodwill after a few months, and somewhat drunk.
I’m gonna tell you, I honestly don’t get cruising. For the most part it’s like being locked up in a closed building that’s part casino, part shopping mall, and part hotel. Sure, it’s nice to look out your cabin at the ocean for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then what? Everywhere on the ship it’s crowded with drunk old rich people. As for the food and drinks, I stayed away from that shit as much as I could, because I’ve read some bad stories about food handling and drink ingredients on those ships. The truth was, the one time when I went with my parents on a cruise from Miami to Santo Domingo and San Juan to Trinidad and then back to Miami, I just sat around watching my parents drink and was bored out of my mind.
So, why do Mom and Dad do it? What’s the deal with them and cruises? I think with them, and especially my dad, it’s about status. He didn’t start out with much, but he likes to invest in weird shit like crypto-currencies and a few years ago he got lucky with a couple of those investments. Because of that, my parents have more money than they really know what to do with. They definitely aren’t country-club types, but cruising seems to work for them as a way to show-off.
Mom and Dad had told me that as soon as they got back, they’d have a “big surprise”, for me. I thought: oh fuck, please don’t have me go on one of those idiotic cruises. But no, their surprise was actually something I would like, a swimming pool. Starting the very next day, a construction crew was coming over to install an indoor pool in the back yard.
It turned out that Mom had decided that she wanted her own private pool after using the crowded pools on ships. So, that gave something for Dad to spend some money on for a property tax write-off, a new pool.
I knew what would happen. Mom would use that pool about as much as she used the hot tub and the equipment in the workout room. However, a pool would be a nice thing added to my life, something that I would be using, especially when they weren’t around. And I couldn’t wait to surprise Yvonne the next time she came over. We’d have not just a hot tub and massage table, but also a pool to hang out in.
Yvonne and I had to put our relationship on hold while my parents were home and the pool was being built. We hung out with our cliques and tried to ignore each other at school. That was so hard, all that pretending. I no longer really wanted to hang out with the girls who had set me up to fight with her. I knew that she felt the same way about her crowd. And yet, we really didn’t know how to handle our situation. Neither of us had the courage to break away, give up our social status in school, and start completely over with no one but each other. And it’s not like we could have spent much time together anyway, because the only place we could do that was my house. My dad was gone at work most of the time, but my mom was working from home on her laptop and watching over the pool installation crew.
Yvonne and I couldn’t go out on the weekends because of her job. She worked Thursday and Friday afternoons and evenings, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday. And, my “friends” always wanted me to be with them. There was nothing else for me to do, so I went along with that.
There was only one time Yvonne and I managed to get together when my parents were back home. She sent me a couple of selfies and finally texted me that she wanted to meet me at Sutter’s Park. Yes, finally, I’d get to see her. Then she added a challenge.
“You know how I’m going to want to see you. I’m going be that way too. And no cheating.”
I took a deep breath. I should have known. I’d finally get to see her alone, but I’d have to run naked all the way to Sutter’s Park. If what she was saying was true, she had committed herself to a much bigger challenge; streaking all the way from Eastwood. She’d somehow have to get past the highway and run somewhere between five and six miles. I only had to do about a mile and a half.
Still, it was the first time I ever went streaking alone. I had to get out of the house without Mom seeing me, run the usual route to the park, spend however long I was going to spend with my friend, and then return home and get back to my room without being seen.
Fortunately Mom was on her laptop at the dining room table, wearing a set of headphones and totally absorbed with the commission she was working on. I went into my room, took off my clothes and put on my shoes, grabbed my cell phone, and peeked back out. She was still working and not aware of anything going on around her. It was as good as it would get. I quietly walked behind her and slipped through the front door.
It is hard to express how vulnerable I felt as soon as I stepped outside. I realized how much I felt protected when I was following Yvonne. She was not with me to protect or guide me. I had to get to Sutter’s Park on my own and make my own decisions about how I would do that.
As I ran along the shaded sidewalks and felt the cool night air on my exposed skin, I picked up confidence that, if I was in my own neighborhood, I could streak by myself just as well as I could with her. I wanted to show her that yes, I could do it, and I would do it, because that was what she wanted. I ran through the cul-de-sac, but fortunately it was empty. A car entered just as I made it to the path between the two houses. That was my closest call.
I got to Sutter’s park and crouched behind a large tree to look around. My phone buzzed. The text read: “Not too good at hiding. I can see your white ass all the way from Picnic Station 5.”
I had to run across the entire park to get to the picnic station. And, true to her word, there she was, sitting on a table and just as naked as I was. We hugged, then kissed, and then ran our hands over each other’s bodies. It felt so good to be with her again.
She glanced at her cellphone.
“The park patrol will be coming through in about five minutes. We’ll move behind those bushes until he’s gone. Then we’re good for a couple of hours. He does the same route at the same time every single night I’ve come here.”
We didn’t talk much when we left our hiding spot and returned to the picnic table. There was a lot we needed to say to each other, but we had no idea how to start. Anyhow, the park was not the place to really talk. We made out for a while, and then lay on the table together, looking up at the night sky.
My father had contracted services to take care of the yard, do routine maintenance on the house, deliver groceries, and with the addition of the pool, to take care of that as well. For some reason my parents assumed that I existed on “autopilot”, that if everything in the house was taken care of, I didn’t need any maintenance. And, I guess with me they lucked out because, for the most part, that was true. At home I studied, cooked for myself, did a small amount of housework, and managed to keep myself entertained. I learned how to do a lot of things on my own and take some responsibilities at an early age, because my mom was so distracted, even before Dad’s investments paid off and we were still poor.
Even though I often had the house completely to myself and my parents weren’t around to see what I was doing, I was smart enough to not have anyone from my clique come over, because I knew for a fact they would have trashed the place. I was with them and saw them in action at another girl’s place whose parents had left just for the weekend. That was enough to let me know I should never, ever have any of them over at my house, nor let them know that my parents weren’t home very much.
It turned out that I was right about Mom and the pool. She used it twice. Two days after it was finished she left with Dad to go on a “business trip” which would include several hotel stays around the Caribbean and another cruise. I later learned that Dad used the trips not only as entertainment and a way to show off, but also as tax write-offs. It was a legal way to scam the government, that allowed him to go year-after-year without paying any taxes.
“Sure you don’t wanna come with us, Sweetie?”
“Uh, Mom, it’s the middle of the semester. I’ve got term papers coming up and mid-terms in two weeks.”
“Oh, yeah, Sweetie, I keep forgetting. School. OK, then you be a good girl and let us know if you need anything. And please, no more fighting, OK?”
“I promise, no more fighting. The other girl and I patched things up.”
“Good to hear. Better to be a lover than a fighter. That’ll get you much further in life. Always remember that.”
Better to be a lover than a fighter. Yeah Mom, I got that figured out. As soon as you leave, I’m gonna text her and she’s gonna come over and we’re gonna run around naked and have sex in your hot tub, the one you never use. So you go enjoy your hotels and your cruise and getting drunk. Bye.