It’s fascinating what you forget that you remember.
It’s not that I forgot. It’s not that I ever lived a moment in a world where the memories were not with me. It’s just that for a while I forgot that remembered. I forgot that I knew. For a while those cancerous memories that are burned into my psyche like a cattle brand were just covered up with something else… a snapshot of how things ended, what came next, or maybe just how good the coffee was.
I went on a date a number of years ago (which is to say that I don’t know how many years ago it was, but Paris was still open, and I think I was in college because you couldn’t smoke in there anymore) with a guy I met from the internet. That’s not saying much since most people I meet have come from the internet since I was 12. I’d met him on OkCupid, and while I didn’t really have interest in him I didn’t mind getting coffee with people. I loved coffee.
I wasn’t attracted to the guy. Even before things went south I knew I probably didn’t want to see him again unless he was SUPER interesting. He was not. I don’t remember how tall he was. In my memory he’s enormous, maybe 6’4″, and very heavy. I don’t mind heavy people (honestly, I prefer overweight men, since I am an overweight girl) and I love me a tall man, but his features weren’t right. His eyes were cruel. His nose was sharp as a knife, and it sat uncomfortably in the center of his face like a dagger on an overstuffed pillow. He also slurped when he drank coffee.
It wasn’t a great date; we had virtually nothing in common. He asked to walk me to my car, and absently I mentioned that I was going to hang out a while because I didn’t like walking down the “rape alley” that lead to the parking with people I didn’t know.
Let me explain: There were two ways to get from parking to the cafe. If you were lucky, the backdoor would be open and you could come in through the patio. If the door wasn’t open you had to walk through an alley between buildings and about a block down the street. I was there a lot, so the baristas usually opened the back door for me if they’d locked it for some reason, but if you weren’t a regular you probably didn’t even know they had a patio. So yes, I called it a “rape alley.” It was dark and secluded, a great spot to mug, assault, or rape someone, and everyone I knew that went to Paris called it a “rape alley” and we avoided ever using it.
To this passing comment that some might find off color and some might find humorous, depending who you are, my enormous, foreboding date, replied:
It’s not rape if you yell ‘surprise’ first, then it’s just surprise sex.
I have no doubt it was a joke, albeit a shitty, distasteful one. Still, I can’t forget his face. It curled up into a smile that looked threatening in a way I was unfamiliar with. There’s a moment in every girl’s life, I think, where they have to deal with the fact that some men don’t see you as a person. It could be a date, a boss, a dad, a boyfriend, but someone will remind you that all the stereotypes mothers and girl friends warn you about men are built on a truth.
You’ll be relieved to know that I was not raped in an alley. I was on my own turf, and I excused myself to the bathroom. I told the barista girl, who I knew pretty well and called Starscream (I literally gave all the baristas at Paris a Transformer name), what was going on and asked if there was somewhere I could just wait him out. She went and got Barricade (all of them… all of them had a Transformers name…) who was a short, but stacked man who was always very busy and distracted, but nice (he didn’t really care for the Transformer names at first, but he got used to it and would smirk at me when I called him Barricade). Barricade then comped our whole ticket and escorted my date off the premises, letting him know that he was banned and a jerk.
Not every branded memory is a terrible one, though.
I had broken up with THE EX (when I say THE EX, of course, I mean the one that whenever I accidentally run into him I get the uncontrollable urge to drag him into the street, beat him to death, and set his dead body on fire as I bathe in his blood) and I was lonely. While he was a shit-show dumb-fuck that should be sacrificed to the gods as a show of intolerance for worthless sacks of flesh that spread disease and and ignorance, I was lonely. He’d been my first (and only) live in boyfriend, and I didn’t really have friends after the breakup, either, so I was pretty desperate for attention.
I had met this guy a while before hand, but he was an alcoholic and I didn’t have time for him, at the time. After the ex left, though… well, it wasn’t like I was doing anything else with my life, and he was in AA… so.. why not?
It was, of course, a terrible idea and we have a very unhealthy relationship where he resented and loved me at the same time, and still had a wife, but I really liked his kids… also, and this is what tells you that I was really fucking lonely, he had meth mouth rot from all the meth he did in Wyoming prior… so… that was a gross thing that happened…
But our first date was great.
We didn’t do a lot. We didn’t go to dinner. We didn’t do a movie.
We down to 16th St Mall and just walked around. We got coffee. We talked. We laughed.
And then it started to rain.
If you’ve never had a first date in the rain, I can’t recommend it enough. It was already a lovely summer evening, and he was actually really intelligent and nice, in spite of everything that came later. So when the sky opened up and dumped rain down on us, it was like something out of a movie. We sprinted for the nearest store front but ended up soaking wet anyways. All the shops were closed and the mall was lit up with street lights. We were close to the clock tower, and as it rang out the incredibly later hour over the sound of thunder a flash of lightning captured the giddy moment of our first kiss.
Yes, everything that came after was terrible, but that’s a first date for the record books, if you ask me.
Other things that I remember in incredibly gory detail:
- The words, “Do I really want to do this to another freshman?” They were spoken by my asshat suicidal boyfriend the day I had sex for the first time. It was a bad decision on my part, but I feel like if you don’t regret your first sex experience, it’s because you married that person. Still, I think it’s worse that he had some kind of record… also worse… I was either 12 or just barely 13… I was a very young freshman.
- The mother’s day that my first dog, Joie, died. He didn’t feel good… and we rushed him to the ER, but a tumor in his stomach had ruptured and there was nothing they could do. He’d have eventually bled out into his stomach. I remember his eyes when they injected him to put him down, and how he didn’t go down. A second dose. A third. Nothing. He didn’t have enough blood pressure for the drugs to get to his heart, they said. So they hooked him up to the sleeping gas and we waited. My mom was always so scared that when we had the old tumor removed, or even just when his teeth were cleaned, that they’d use too much and he’d be lost to us. He hung on for what seemed like an eternity. They turned it all the way up and he wasn’t ready to go. I remember looking at his face and just wishing he’d let go. My mom told him over and over that it was okay to go, but we were crying, and he never liked that.
- When mom left me alone for like a month freshman year because her father was dying. I did okay for a couple weeks, but I was 13 years old, and already spent an unhealthy amount of time alone. Eventually she made my dad come pick me up so I could stay with him. He didn’t want to since he’d have to drive me all the way across town to go to school… fortunately, she came back shortly after that… he dad only woke up to tell her goodbye, and then he never woke up again. I felt guilty that she had to come back for me for years.
- Being at Junior prom and not even having anyone to talk to because all my friends weren’t speaking to each other. My mom was waiting in the parking lot and I had her just take me home. I later went to after prom with a friend I wasn’t very close to, but I will never really shake that feeling of loneliness.
- Getting ready for senior prom and just wishing that my mom was there with me. She was with her brother. He was dying. All the important men in my mom’s life died while I was in high school…
- Being at Senior prom with the guy I was dating, who I knew was a complete bore, but not having anyone else to be there with, since my friends were, once again, not speaking to each other.
- My first day of college… and how the excitement turned into complete and utter panic. I ripped all my fake nails off. It was excruciating, but it didn’t block out the panic that surged through my nervous system that day.
Admittedly, there aren’t a lot of GOOD imprints on my list, but the good moments I hold onto are things like smiles and hugs. There aren’t a whole lot of entirely good days. Lol.
The point is, I often forget that I remember these things… they only pop up when someone mentions something that brings it crashing back to the forefront of my mind. I guess that means I’ve buried a lot of them, for this reason or that.
But they’re not all bad…