Erika, Maude and I came back to my parents’ house in Marysville, Washington and my mother was thrilled to have us. Erika was grandpa’s special girl and they spent hours together with her helping him in the garden and with his carpentry work. Meanwhile, my heart felt so heavy it was as if I had a rock in my chest that made it hard to breathe. I didn’t think that the heartache over leaving Steve would be so severe but it was. I set about planning what our next move would be. Michael and Bill, my two friends from Darryl’s acting class, were willing to put me up until I could find work and a place for Erika and me to stay. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, Steve had had a heart attack the day we left from the shock of seeing that Erika and I had gone and it was so serious he had ended up having heart surgery as well. I had written to him while I was at my parents’ house, pouring out my feelings, but hadn’t heard back. I thought he was just angry and never wanted anything to do with me again, but he was in the hospital recuperating. I felt a little guilty about that until a few years later I ran into him and found out he was still smoking. So his heart attack wasn’t all my fault.
After a brief stay with my friends, I found a house in the valley in Encino that Alan was willing to help us pay the rent on. My friend, Tony Eldridge, loaned me the money to ship my furniture and clothes back to L.A., and fortunately, I was able to pay him back in a few months. The little house was close to a grade school that was just a few blocks away, and Erika and I and the cats settled into a new life in the “flats.” Then my friend, Kevin Krasny, Paul’s son, bought a house two doors down from where we were living and offered to share it with us. This was even better. Now we would have some financial breathing room, a place where Erika and I could be happy and a yard where the cats would never have to worry about coyotes ever again.
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