Part 37 The Victorian Trip
There were many life changes for Gia over the next few years, renovating a house, having a baby. Then buying a bigger property. An old Victorian house with history, plenty of space and potential. A dream home, their forever home. Renovating again, another baby.
Moving and unpacking between baby feeding and naps. Love, so much love, happiness, sleepless nights, diapers, first words, crying, laughing… Caring for children, teaching them and learning from them. Worrying about them, making sure they were happy and content.
Gia was taken aback how much she loved her babies. She would do anything for them. So how come her father never felt the same about her? Old wounds opened a little. How could you not sweep your children in your arms, kiss them and cuddle them, or even look at them with tenderness, your own flesh and blood? How could you not do it? The child is totally innocent and helpless, there is nothing else to do but love it. She learned that from her babies, and it still hurt that her father never did that.
She felt so incredibly sad for the little Gia. She saw her big blue-green eyes, the eyes of a much older soul (as she was told), the serious expression on her little face. One of her earliest memories was her father executing a punishment. Gia was about two, she didn’t remember how she misbehaved, when her father put her on the table and smacked her hard across her back and bottom.
She winced with pain. “It didn’t hurt.” she said quietly.
His white blue eyes bulging out of his head, spit flying from his mouth. He did it again, much harder this time. Little Gia cried out with pain in her hip bones, that’s where the table touched her body.
“What about now?” he screamed in her face.
She cried, unable to respond.
Gia would never smack or hit her children. Even when Aria kicked and screamed, her little body twisted with emotion she couldn’t control. It always happened at the least suitable situation, leaving a house, the supermarket anywhere in public… Gia had her arms full with Mimi, bags, stroller and a screaming toddler to deal with. It was challenging, and nerve wracking, but she still would never smack them.
Drew was great with the kids, when he was there. He was coming and going. Here one day and gone the next. Sometimes he came home after a week or two, sometimes it was months before they saw him again. Most of the time Gia was alone in the big old house with her babies and ghosts of the past.
An eccentric lady lived there for seventy one years, at first with her family, then alone, childless with only cats for a company. Gia found a treasure box in the attic filled with ancient diaries of her father. Adeline’s letters with her pen pals, a leader of a battleship, a German girl who stayed with them one summer, and her brother who would become an SS leader of Hitlerjugend before and during WWII.
“The new Germany is wonderful, Hitler is doing miracles for all of us. I wish for you and every country to have a Hitler.” he wrote.
Adeline saw differently, “you do not see what we see from outside of Germany. Hitler is not good, we see threat to our freedom.”
Although Adeline did not agree with her friend, she still cared about him and his family. And even after the war started, she still loved Germany and the ordinary people she met, when she spent a year studying there. The best years of her life so far.
Gia found it fascinating to read that and about her travel adventures typed meticulously on a once white and now yellowed paper. She started to get to know Adeline and wished that she would have known her when she was still alive.
Who else lived in our house? Obsessive searching of the history of the house, online census registries, the library, asking neighbors… When was the house actually built and by whom? Who used to live there at the end of the 19th century?
She learned a lot from Adeline’s fathers’s diaries. He first viewed the house on May 10th 1924, he was impressed by the property’s extensive mature gardens, he returned the next day with his wife and purchased the house later that summer for £859, £300 of which was mortgaged. He had some repairs done and moved the furniture in stages, all the while working in the beloved garden. Finally on August 3rd 1924 the family moved in and slept in the house for the very first time. Gia noted the date, her and Drew’s wedding was August 3rd.
Over time Gia learned about the family and their daily activities, about Adeline and her sister Evangeline’s studies. About the weather and the kind of birds that lived in the garden. In her mind she imagined them so vividly, that she started to feel like she was an intruder in their home. That’s why she would never ever read the diaries upstairs.
She found it so interesting, and intriguing, how a real family lived there, just like Gia’s family lived there right now. She imagined them in every room going about their life. Only they were all gone now, just vanished. How is that possible, one day they were there and the next day gone.
The same would happen to Gia and her family. In the future there would be another young woman making a dinner for her husband, putting their children to bed every night, and Gia, Drew and their babies will be gone. One day they were there, and the next they would be gone… The thought was paralyzing. Sometimes Gia would wake up screaming, heart pounding, terrible, terrible fear of nothingness…
One sunny hot day Gia took Aria to nursery and Mimi for a walk under the trees not far from their house. Mimi on her still quite unsteady legs running, Gia chasing her. Mimi squealing in delight. Suddenly nausea swept over Gia. It must have been the bending down, she thought. Then to her horror, she started to loose her vision. Literal blackness started closing in. Gia was amazed at the digital feel of it all. The edges to the blackness were tiny black squares, pixel like and with every heart beat closing in. Fast.
Am I actually going to black out? What? What is going on? I don’t understand. What about Mimi? There is danger everywhere, she can just wander into a road and get knocked down by a car. No! Quick what am I to do? Call Drew? But what will he do from a distance? Call who? I do not have time, I am going to faint or die before I can mange to do anything. Quick think. Think!THINK!I GOT TO SAVE MY DAUGHTER!!!!!
HELP! ANYBODY PLEASE! I AM GOING TO FAINT, PLEASE HELP MY DAUGHTER!
What? Why is that man across the road just staring at her and ignoring her desperate plea? Why the f**k doesn’t he do anything? How could he just ignore them? How dare does he just let this happen? She was so mad, but noticed that the blackness stopped for a second and now it was lifting. Thank God! She felt weak, but quickly grabbed Mimi and strapped her into the stroller. She was safe. The man finally came over, and asked if Gia was okay. She didn’t know what to say, he lead her to a bench and then left. What the f**k was that?
Drew seemed very concerned, he told her to make an appointment to see a doctor. Gia missed him when he was gone, but every time he came back, it was strange, he usually took Aria out, and Gia stayed home with Mimi. She needed her naps. Besides Gia didn’t feel like going anywhere. She still carried the excess baby weight, and didn’t feel like herself.
Drew seemed stressed lately. He snapped a lot. What is going on? Doesn’t he love her any more? But she was almost back, Mimi was in her own bedroom, soon she would stop breast feeding her. She was getting her body back, her own life back. She tried to explain it to Drew a few times. It felt like she was in a cave tending to the young for a few years, but she was coming back. Herself, her true self, who ever that was, was coming back.
Sometimes when Gia was lying in bed at night, she wondered what would happen, if she didn’t wake up one morning? How would her babies take care of themselves? How long would it be before anybody started wondering how they were, and how long before they’d find the kids? Three days? A week? Would they survive? Would her three-year old help her baby sister? Would she bring her food from the kitchen? Because it is possible, you hear it on the news every other day about someone young dying from undiagnosed heart problems…
But still she was so happy in their new house. It’s great, it had so much potential! It doesn’t matter that it looks shabby right now, and the garden is a mess. One day it will look great.
Original writing and photo by Gia Copyright 2015