A Rocky Start
by Vicky Rose
A few months after my dad and stepmother had moved into their new apartment, my aunt called and said there was a “nice fellow,” Bill Rose, who lived in our building and had seen me and wanted to meet me. I recognized his name because I had seen his sister’s picture in the pages of Women’s Wear Daily. However, I was still dating Bruce at the time, so dating Billy wasn’t an option. Several months later, after I had graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and moved back to New York City and was working at Saks, Bruce and I broke up. Soon after that, in November of 1975, I called my aunt to see if that “nice fellow” in my building was still single and interested. He was.
Billy called me and asked if I’d like to go on a date that Saturday night. I was so excited that I immediately accepted instead of trying to play it cool. However, as soon as I hung up the phone, I realized I was scheduled for minor foot surgery that Saturday evening and wouldn’t be able to go on the date. I called Billy back to explain the situation. I could tell he was skeptical; how many foot surgeries really happen on a Saturday evening, after all? He probably thought I was just giving him the “I have to wash my hair that night” excuse.
Two weeks later we finally went on our first date. Billy took me to Le Club, an exclusive dinner and dancing establishment known for its upper-crust clientele. Though I could barely dance due to my recent surgery, we had a really nice time. The next morning I woke up wanting to call Billy and invite him over for breakfast. I decided to play it cool, though, and wait for him to call again, which he soon did. Our second date was to a New York Rangers hockey game—a first for me—and afterward we went to dinner at the 21 Club, one of New York’s most expensive and elite restaurants. Since my college boyfriend had been a “starving artist,” and I had taken on housecleaning jobs so we would have money for dates, I was over the moon about my dates with Billy. They were an awesome and exciting contrast to my previous dating experiences.
Billy gave me a small, diamond heart pendant for Christmas that year, and I thought, This is the one. Billy was the man who could provide me with all the things that would make me happy. He had money, he had connections, and he always had plans to do something and go somewhere glamorous. I loved that about him, and I loved that it meant I had something to do and somewhere fabulous to go. He represented that lifestyle I had longed for since my early days of poring over Women’s Wear Daily. If my teenage self could have seen me a decade later, she wouldn’t have believed the life I was living.
As you know, Billy loves sports—especially baseball. I did not grow up in a sports family, and I had never been to a baseball game in my life. When we first dated, I went to seventy New York Yankees home games. No, that’s not a typo; we went to seventy games! It wasn’t what I had ever expected I would someday do (I wouldn’t have expected to go to even seven Yankees games in my entire lifetime), but it brought me what I had always dreamed of. Sitting in the owner’s box, meeting many famous people in that arena, and having a special permit to park in the players’ lot at Yankee Stadium all seemed to be what I had been looking for. Completing my desire, Women’s Wear Daily printed a photo of me clapping and cheering at a Yankees game. I had arrived. My childhood dream had come true.
Billy and I married despite the fact that we had absolutely no interests in common. I entered into marriage thinking that he would buy me happiness, that he would bring me the joy that I thought magically appears when you get married. But I was also scared going into marriage. I remember telling my best friend, Serena, that I didn’t really think it would work because we had nothing in common. But I just wanted to be married; I thought it would fill that void of family that had been lost when my mom died. I figured we could always just get a divorce sometime down the road.
Unsurprisingly, our marriage got off to a rocky start. We did not have a solid foundation, and I, for one, was not necessarily in it for the long haul. A strong marriage takes a firm commitment to God, to each other, and to making things work, and Billy and I did not have that kind of mutual devotion to our relationship or any kind of relationship with the Lord.
During those early days of marriage, I worked hard as a way to hide my frustrations about the differences between Billy and me. Marriage wasn’t turning out to be all I’d thought. Being husband and wife didn’t change the fact that we were two very different people with very opposite interests. Like many newlyweds, I had believed things would change after the wedding and life settled into more of a routine. I had thought that once we were married, we would do some of the things Billy liked and some of the things I liked. That wasn’t the case. We continued to do everything Billy liked—all of which had to do with sports—and nothing that I liked. But I begrudgingly put up with it because it was still more important to me to be married than to be myself.
Things went from bad to worse in the Rose household, and we separated one summer early in our marriage. I was extremely unhappy, and I knew I needed to try to figure things out. The marriage wasn’t working, and Billy was in his own world nearly all the time. I was extremely frustrated with him and with the entire situation. I wanted out; if my husband wasn’t going to give me the attention and sense of fulfillment I desired, I was going to see what else the world had to offer me.
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