When Marina was born the Douglas family name was synonymous with Albany. Her father was the CEO of one of the largest insurance companies in the county. Her mother, a noted society hostess and daughter of a state supreme court justice. Her brother, the captain of the football team, and her sister, the Homecoming Queen, had reputations almost as spotless as their parents. Marina was the odd one out. If she tried out for the softball team, she was not as gifted an athlete as her brother. If she tried out for the school play, she was not quite as good an actress as her sister. If her grades were good, they were mediocre compared to what her fathers had been at her age. Eventually, rather than trying to seek out the spotlight, Marina retreated to the wings. Content to watch and note the comings and goings of those closest to her and happy in the knowledge that they were not quite as perfect as they seemed.
Her deep blue eyes, translucent skin, and fair hair should have made her the darling of society. Her father thought her comparative lack in achievements stood in the way of her social success, her mother thought her rather retiring manner was the culprit. Her grandfather thought it was simply a byproduct of her youth. The truth was that, even a teen, Marina simply had a very low tolerance for bullshit. Her mother may have shined socially but her repeated trips to the bar did not escape her daughter’s notice and, unlike the rest of the family, Marina did not pretend to ignore the seemingly more frequent visits by state authorities to her father’s office.
If her innate cynicism perhaps made it easier to cope when the fortune of the family fell it brought her caretaking abilities. While before she had seemed a distant figure in family life and to her peers, it seemed the girl thrived in crisis. She spent hours watching her mother fall apart and countless more trying to pick up the pieces. The courts and the business community showed no interest in why her father had embezzled a fortune from his company, but it proved a subject of both fascination and concern to his youngest child. And, like any good sister, when she heard someone snicker at one of her siblings, she let the offender know where to shove it.
The families strained circumstances left Marina with few options when it came time to leave the nest. She attended Amory College, near enough to the family home that she would not have to pay rent and far enough away to preserve what was left of the family pride, for the first two years. School had never been exactly difficult for Marina and her nonexistent social life kept her focused on her studies. Granted once she met Frank Domenico at a ‘mixer’ for new students her social life became considerably more interesting.
Frank Domenico was not a member of the blue blood elite. The son of a mechanic and a public-school secretary, Frank could not have cared less about her family and she loved him for it. Frank, his friends, and the life they led was more vital and exciting than any she had known before. Marina found that there was not anything quite like a night spent joy riding in a car that was not yours or the thrill sneaking out of a liquor store with a bottle that you did not pay for. When graduation came, reluctant to turn the page on this chapter of her life, Marina left Amory College with a ring on her finger and a degree in her hand.
Looking back, what happened next was inevitable really. After years of informal observation, Marina devoted herself to the academic study of human behavior. But somehow the more time she spent studying human behavior the less she was able to make sense of her husband’s behavior. Seeing his eyes glaze over as she wondered aloud, what kind of graduate program she should enroll in should have clued her in that there was trouble in paradise. But she had walked around with rose colored glasses, just like her father and mother years before, and like them had to pay the cost.
Her marriage collapsed the day her license came in the mail. Though she may have cried more than she would care to admit, she was more disappointed in her own inability to see the signs that her marriage had failed than its actual failure. Marina returned to Albany for several but her brash demeanor and family history made starting over a futile gesture. For the last fifteen years she has bounced around New York. She has been an investigator for social services in New York City, a school social worker in Ithaca, and a therapist/care coordinator at a mental hospital in Syracuse but somehow never felt like she belonged anywhere. Seeking a more relaxed and settled atmosphere, where she could perhaps live a more quiet and practical life, Marina decided to return to Amory and open a small practice out of her home. Perhaps there she would be able to leave her past behind. Perhaps here she could find something more permanent and meaningful. Perhaps she could finally practice what she preached.