Nancy, before she became romantically involved with Mike Jeffery, Jimi Hendrix’ manager, married a man she met her sophomore year at college, at Brandeis University. The year was 1961. It is highly unlikely that she would have already met Jimi.
The life that opened to Nancy after meeting Mike and Jimi was a stark contrast to the life she experienced for the short while that she was married to Steve Reiner. For an artist like Nancy, a life that rewarded conformity and submission, tradition, invisibility (as a woman), and literal fertility, was destined to never get off the ground.
Although family instantly appeared and finally entered her life, the impact was a far cry from what she needed and wanted.
I was painted to match their decor. You’d never even know I was there. If I stood against the wall, I’d blend right in.
I flew like the negative space of an Escher bird.
I have to say that I identified with Princess Diana, in one sense, and one sense only. In my marriage, I felt like the proverbial tree in the forest. Absolutely no one heard me at all, so I kept falling harder, hoping to make my presence felt.
I wanted to register, so I could have a home that reflected my taste.
Steve’s mother said to me, ‘you can’t register.’ One crisp sentence.
She planned the entire wedding, asking me only one question. ‘What color do you want the bridesmaid’s dresses?’
I was told where my apartment was. The lease had already been signed.
I was taken on a honeymoon, the destination of which I had no clue.
When I returned from my honeymoon, my mother-in-law informed me, she opened the wedding presents. ‘You opened our wedding presents?’ I asked, astonished. ‘Yes’ she said, no further comment.
Then she informed me she hired a decorator from Westchester to decorate the apartment I had never seen. I begged her, at that point, please not to hire a decorator. Please let me do it myself. She would have none of it. The decorator was hired.
I feel like my body was the last boundary of my life of which Steve’s family hadn’t taken dominion. Then his mother suggested that, instead of a dog, I have a baby.
I hated every aspect of my life, because it was not reflective of my life at all. I was miserable. My whole life was robbed from me, including my inheritance from Harold Russek [the man who married Nancy’s mother after my father]. Not only had my mother concluded that Steve and I would support her for the rest of her life, but she decided that, as long as I was married, I no longer needed anything. So she convinced the man I had always called “Daddy” [Harold Russek] to give her my money.
I shriveled, just to the point of completely disappearing….and then, I shattered into a million pieces, hoping they would land outside the boundaries of this prison.
It was like taking a colony of possibilities, and reducing it down to a single jail cell.
I broke out in itchy hives all over my face, which I scratched, and I still have scars.
My husband did not join me in my pain. Nor did he make any attempt to stand beside me. I was broken-hearted, and alone.
Yet I was still made to feel like I should be grateful to these people for all they had done.
And I wondered if that were true. Because I didn’t know.