Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–August 1994, Part 6

In Phil’s church, no one ever went up to the front to sing a song.  In my church, it was commonplace.  His way was strange to me, and mine was strange to him.

At the end of the summer, Phil wanted to sing a song in front of the church before we went back to school, so we went to the Family Bookstore for a background tape.  He picked out Amy Grant’s El Shaddai because he already knew it.

He practiced it nonstop.  Though I knew he needed to practice, it got on my nerves.

It reminded me of the summer of 1993, when the neighbor girl got a tape single of a popular rap song, Ditty by Paperboy.  She sat outside with her jam box one day and played the single over and over again.  It was all the same song, no B-sides.

Finally her mother yelled, “If you don’t stop playing that, I’ll take it away from you!”–to the possible applause of half the neighborhood.  I didn’t like the song much in the first place, and after that I could not listen to it anymore without gagging.

On the last Sunday morning we were in South Bend, August 28, Phil was to sing.  We had had a couple of good weeks.  As we got ready for church in my room, we talked about our last two weeks, how good they’d been and how we were improving.

I said we had all this time before our legal wedding to learn how to deal with married life.  Phil said that when the time came, we could know for sure if we wanted to legalize it or not.  I said that everyone else, not knowing of the common-law marriage, “will wonder how we do it.”  Phil smiled.

Though if we didn’t legalize it, I didn’t know how to reconcile that to the fact that we already were married in God’s eyes.  Wouldn’t it be adultery to split up?

One thing, though: I asked him to shave for the service, at least.  I said that even though I liked his beard, I wanted to see him clean-shaven again for at least a little while, and didn’t want him to look scruffy in front of the congregation.  (His beard always looked scruffy even when fully grown in, because it grew in patches.)  He just smiled at me, and didn’t shave it.

My pastor introduced Phil as “Nyssa’s friend.”  My mom said in a low voice, “Fiancé!”  I believe the same thing happened at the beginning of the summer, that the pastor announced I was back from college and had brought a “friend.”

The people loved Phil’s bass voice.  They also told my parents how well he sang hymns.  It made me proud.  Not only could he sing, but he could also serenade me, and he had done so at least twice.

Now, I look at this and what happened only a little more than a week later, and think, he went so far as to sing in front of the church as my fiancé–but then, a little more than a week later, broke up with me?

He sang a song about the glory of God’s many names, yet only a few weeks later, he got back with me only so he could satisfy his lusts, and left me again?

It’s people like him who give us Christians the name of “hypocrites”!


Phil and I finally went down to the South Bend Tribune building in August to pick up engagement announcement forms.  I kept asking him to take me, but he kept procrastinating.  We went in and picked up an engagement form–and he, with a smile, also picked up a wedding form and an anniversary form.  “We’ll be needing these,” he said.

I filled out my part, he filled out his, Mom answered a question or two–and it appeared in the paper on Sunday, August 28.  In the next few days, Mom’s coworkers brought their own copies of the engagement section to work and gave them to her.  She took them all home and folded them together.  It made her happy.  It did me, as well.

Later on, she wondered if the engagement announcement scared Phil instead of making him happy like it was supposed to.  She said that maybe he was scared to see in print just what was going to happen–maybe it didn’t hit him until then just what he was doing.

I believe it was that week I called my South Bend best friend, and got ahold of her for the first time all summer.  (She was always busy and hard to get ahold of.)  I asked if she saw our engagement announcement, but she said no.

I told her I was engaged, and asked if she’d be maid of honor.  She happily agreed.  She said South Bend guys were dogs, and asked if S– guys were.  I said mine wasn’t, so she said I was lucky.  You see how Stockholm Syndrome can do a number on your brain.


For once, I could take everything to school with me in the fall, instead of taking a little bit more every break, and going without stuffed animals or favorite books or winter clothes or a clothes basket for the first few months because they couldn’t fit into the Grand Am (or, freshman year, the Sunbird).  This excited me, and I made my packing plans accordingly.

Then Phil started acting strange.  In a petulant tone, he said my parents should take me back instead, while he spent extra weeks at his factory job before going back to S–!

But my parents were looking forward to not having to drive me all the way up there once again and pay tolls.  It had already been agreed and understood that he would take me with him when he went back to Wisconsin.

Since we came to Indiana together and had school at the same time, there was no sense in doing it any other way.  My parents hated the drive, which, to them, was twice as long, because after they dropped me off they had to go all the way back.

I sure didn’t appreciate him even suggesting he wouldn’t fulfill his part of the agreement.  If I told my parents, they sure wouldn’t, either.  I finally got him to do what we had planned all summer to do.

I doubt my parents would have let him stay with them without me those extra weeks.  I believe they would have been irate.

After he neglected fixing his faulty brakes all summer, how dare I insist he finally get them fixed when it was the last possible day to do it before he drove us back to school, so we wouldn’t get killed.

If he saw a big-breasted, pretty girl in the drive-through, and told me how much he wanted to take her in the back of his minivan, how dare I get upset instead of laughing and taking it.

A friend of Phil’s called up one day and said, “Your dad says you two are perfect for each other.”

Phil said, “Oh, I don’t know.”

I was, of course, upset at this.  Phil made some excuse, like, “perfect” is a strong word and nobody’s absolutely perfect for each other.  Now, I believe this was a lie.


By the way, I found this article inspiring: “Spilling Secrets,” August 2006 issue of Writer’s Digest.  Synopsis: “Revealing dark, personal secrets can be cathartic for an author and inspiring for readers, as these authors have proved.”

Because of this article, I have new determination to keep going in these memoirs, and reassurance that it is good to get out these “dirty little secrets” in nonfiction rather than just cloaking them in fiction.

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: