I was in the car. I was driving the car. There were 4 of us in there.
We were driving around the city of Fairview, looking for a graveyard. We were going to take pictures, maybe make memories of each other as ghosts. It was in the summer, of course, which is the appropriate time of year to take pictures with friends in a graveyard.
I knew the cemetery I wanted to go to,. It had a nice aesthetic, and it was removed from everything else. For some reason, that place remained hidden away like some secret area in space-time. I knew where it was, but when I drove there, it wasn’t there.
Jesse said he knew of a couple others. They didn’t really sound like they fit the bill when I asked him to desribec them, but what else was I going to do? I was feeling uneasy. I typically felt uneasy around people, but now I felt uneasy around my friends. I felt even more uneasy because I was with my friends and my girlfriend.
I hadn’t seen Corey in weeks, probably. Furthermore, I hadn’t really seen him on any terms of substance for months, maybe even a year if you want to be honest.
There we were, driving that car; that black Toyota Camry– the same year as my own. Kara was to my right in the passenger seat, and Corey and Jesse behind us in the back. I wasn’t happy. Things were not going how I planned. I felt like I had a target on my back. I felt like Kara had a target on her back. I felt that , together, we especially carried a dangerous label. I was pretty sure our friends had alienated us. I am pretty sure. I don’t know if I blame them or not, things got to a point where they couldn’t be contained. When you are a couple, you try to do everyone around you the courtesy of putting problems and quarrels aside until it is behind closed doors. That hadn’t been an option for maybe a year now. Everyone had seen the ugliness, our craziness.
I felt like I had turned crazy, and I felt like everyone thought I had lost it. That didn’t help me feel any less crazy.
I so badly wanted this to be a good day. Seamless. Flawless. Peerless. Enjoyable. And if things really go well, perfect. A sign of hope, a reminder that we aren’t cancer, we are just the same two friends you’ve always had. I had trouble truly wanting anything in those days. I was stunted, but, I truly, truly, wanted that.
I couldn’t find the right place. I was on edge. I was messing things up already. In my head I could feel Kara beginning to fret; the cogs and gears coming slightly loose. I was figuring her to start worrying that we won’t find a good spot, and that one bolt of negativity firing off, suggesting that we just go back home, forget the pictures and just hang out at my house. That one blow would dismantle the entire machine, and I couldn’t let it happen.
We were still driving. Forty minutes to no avail, I was out of ideas. I tried to keep things going. I worked hard, like they were going to tip me, if I kept the atmosphere comfortable and enjoyable. While I was driving I glanced over at Kara after something I said. I saw something. It was a slight removal of comfort in her face, to the corner of my eye, it looked like that seed of distress. I was in no place to make that judgment.
I did anyway.
I was so sure that she was about to unravel. To prevent the peace from being broken, I broke it. I took the offensive.
“No, no you don’t. Not today! Not today!”
Nobody knew what I was on about.
She didn’t really either, she just heard my tone, saw the alarm in my face and demeanor. It was Chernobyl all over again.
I continued to accuse her of indicating to me that she was not keeping things together, that she was about to crack.
I guess I forgot to say that it was hard for her to be social in those days. Working her up to have group interaction among even the closest of our friends took weeks on a slow stew. One small mistake and that is another week or two of work. Just as it was hard to get her up for it, maintaining her ability to when we did was something that I had taken responsibility for. I was the nurse. I was probably wrong to, but then again, in those days, it was probably necessary– I don’t think retrospect has granted me any other light on that.
There we were, trapped in this vehicle, a good 12 minutes from home. I was yelling at the top of my lungs. It was a very grotesque scene. There were a handful of times where I was really, truly mean– just mean00 and mean to her in some sort of public setting. When I say mean, I mean like in a way that I knew I was being mean, but I did not feel bad about it; like I felt she had earned it from me. This was one of those few times. Of course what followed after I regathered myself from those incidents was the ugliest, muddy feeling of dreck and self-loathing grime infiltrating every last pore I had.
In the middle of my tirade I glanced in the rearview mirror, seeing my two friends in the back seat, as uncomfortable as sleeping on a bed of spikes. It only made me feel worse.Maybe these moments were some type of out of body experiences for me, and seeing those two, then her, then myself, started to pull me back in. I had too much momentum to just stop, but I just finished up a good 30 seconds more of vicious yelling and blaming for thinking that or plans are ruined before I did stop.
Then, they really were ruined.
She cried, trying not to erupt into tears– she instead just melted away in a ball of salty discharge as she curled up in her seat facing down and away from everyone. The two in the back didn’t make a peep. And I just recoiled away toward my window a bit, wearing my mask of distress anger, and disappointment. I was holding back. I wanted to cry, but I wasn’t going to. I sped up, but I didn’t speed too much. I thought to myself, “this is it– you’ve really done it this time.”
I knew that when we got home the other two would leave both as quickly as they could, but also as politely as they could. That made me more upset. I’d rather them just leave and not feign the courtesy part. I am not ignorant, of course.
As soon as we did get back, the exact scenario happened.
Jesse was kind of quieter about it, his voice doesn’t carry like most, so it could be seen as him just kind of getting in his car and heading off. Corey is very adept at the uncomfortable courtesy bit, and he really let it out in this case. I don’t blame him, but as soon as he said what words he said, in the tone he said, and that door shut, the red in my vision and head rose. The cars started driving off and I just let myself lose control of my body. We went inside, because I needed to unlock the door for her, but it was merely a stop on the way to wherever I was going.
The puppy of Kara’s was howling, she had severe separation anxiety. She was in her kennel in my living room. I yelled at the dog, and rattled her kennel. I told the puppy to shut up in all different manner of ways, then transferred that to Kara as she busted out into total weeping. I started throwing and kicking things. I didn’t want ot hurt her. I didn’t want to run my friends off. I didn’t want her to be crying. I didn’t want plans to be ruined. I didn’t want to be the one who ruined things, but I was. I kicked some of my mom’s somewhat new furniture. In fact, I broke some of it. I continued to the back porch so I could continue to follow my blind rage even more. I grabbed the weight bench and threw the barbell off the deck into the lawn. Primally, I screamed and shrieked about. I noticed that the neighbors down the street had been outside when we got home. They were still on their porch at this time. Just more people to alienate me and think I am mentally unstable.
I don’t remember everything I threw or tried to destroy. I do distinctly remember a broom stick of which I broke. I didn’t break it snapping it on my leg, or banging it on anything. I merely flung it across the yard. Mid release, it snapped in half and split off into two paths, one end hitting a tree. At that point I started to calm enough to stop physically lashing out. I stayed outside for a while. I sat on the steps of my deck and let some tears come out.
I didn’t know what I was going to do when I went back inside. I didn’t know how I was going to recover between any of those people involved, or what my parents would think when they saw all the destruction. I didn’t want to sit out there forever, though. It only made things worse. After a couple minute I went inside.
We didn’t say anything to each other, she was on the couch, or maybe she had gone into my room on my bed– either way, she was coiled up into a ball, still outpouring tears and snot like the river Nile. I set to clean everything inside up. I made good progress until I realized some of the furniture I had broken. I had a little kid moment again, when I was trying to figure out how I was going to cover this up and lie to my mom about it so she doesn’t notice. She still doesn’t know about it to this day, so I guess I did well on that front. Maybe my childhood was just teaching me how to deceive better.That dilemma set back my efforts to recollect myself by 30 minutes, though.
I don’t remember much of what happened in the next 30-60 minute, or maybe I just don’t care to go that deep into something already terribly personal. I remember it being dark. Dark and quiet. The only noise was slow breathing patterns, sniffling, a ticking clock on the wall, and dog tags clinging about. These things occupied our senses until enough time passed that the only thing left in me was weakness, tenderness and gentleness.
We were both hungry and exhausted. I fed myself and fed her, after persuading her that she needed to eat too.
We sat curled up with each other on my couch as we ate dinner and in the dark watched Man On Wire.