November 7, 2020:

I'm thinking of how painful it must have been for her to leave me with sitters as she left for work.

I remember the first morning, sitting inside the locked screen door, wailing. In panic at being abandoned. Not understanding. That must have been so difficult for her. That day at work must have been impossible. How to focus on tasks when you left your child wailing in panic?

I don't know her life between divorce and that day. I was too young then to have those memories now.

My earliest memories are of the apartment on Yale Street. Painting the walls the lovely beige color she chose. The difference between glossy and flat paint. Painting my little dresser set. Coating my little shelves with shellac. I still have those shelves, in my bedroom today. Sixty years old, they are. We put the shiny finish on them together.

Her upright piano, rented. Her playing, her singing Irish songs. Her homework on the kitchen table — mixing colors.

She had friends.

I feel optimism in those memories. Her adult life still before her. When did that change? When she lost her most important friendship?

Her life with me changed when she found her father. She was no longer interested. Or perhaps it's all coincidence. That's when she retreated inward in defeat. Maybe it was when she gave up school. School plus work plus child, too much. When was that? Before Clairemont.

There are no happy memories of her in Clairemont. I can't think of one. Every happy memory is of La Mesa, before the family came.