Ten years ago…
I spent some time this afternoon reflecting on the past ten years and the only thing it got me was an overwhelming sense of doom and the urge to run far, far away. Not from my life in the current day but perhaps from the memories I was digging up that I thought I was in tune with but am actually distantly poking on occasion and never truly working through.
My first thought of ten years ago was that it was the year I got my driver’s license. For many people, it is a memory they look back on and remember joyful adolescent times. For me it’s a memory I look back on and it makes my stomach turn with various emotions I can’t even put identifiers to yet.
The primary emotion jumping out at me is disgust. Yes, my mother helped find a way to pay for me to take my driving test but as anyone with a narcissistic parent knows… This will only be a metaphoric string held over my head later. I mean, if we’re being honest, she helped but she certainly did not pay for it. I failed my first driving test. That test was paid for by one of her ex-boyfriends who I guess pitied me in the moment? It’s the same ex-boyfriend who in a heat of drunken anger screamed “WHY DON’T YOU GO CRY TO YOUR NANA? OH WAIT, SHE’S DEAD. YOU CAN’T.” At me, while I was hysterically crying at the situation unfolding in front of me.
I’ve replayed this particular situation over and over in my head since the day it happened. I’ve gone from hating the man to feeling sorry for him, to just accepting that sometimes things just get said when they shouldn’t. That night was the night he found out she was leaving him for a 21-year-old (she was 28). To give names for distinguishing purposes, we’ll call the existing boyfriend Sam and the new boyfriend Todd.
We had recently moved to a small Alaskan town only about four months prior to this unraveling. We moved because of a business opportunity for Sam. She had been dating Sam for around two years. My mother and Sam did what they’d always done and not far from our house was a small bar they would go hang around at and they met Todd and his family who also frequented the bar. Soon enough Todd was hanging around all of the time, pretending to be a friend of Sam, I don’t know exactly how it all unfolded but eventually, my mom was being shady and you know how that goes.
I’d say about a month after these shenanigans began is when we found out that my Nana was murdered. Things stayed about as normal for a couple of weeks after finding out until this particular day when everything went to hell in a hand-basket. I couldn’t tell you exactly what started the whole deal or what other exchanges happen I just very, very distinctly remember this particular night. I believe somehow it came out that he found out she was fooling around and that he was kicking us out of the house. Lots and lots of screaming and fighting. Physical and verbal abuse running rampant. They were fighting in the garage of the house and at some point, I had run inside and tucked myself in the corner of the living room next to the couch and was inconsolable at the fact that my current situation was again unfolding in front of me and I was in the front row of a complete shit show and that I had nowhere to run. I had no safe zone. I had no one to call. I had no one to save me. It was me. I was alone. That was the night I truly realized, this is my life now. This is the only corner I have left.
When I say inconsolable, I mean it to every fine point of each letter. In through the garage storms Sam, eyes bloodshot from tears and screaming, holding his hands to his head, he makes eye contact with me and screams the words that would be engraved to my mind for the rest of my life. It may not seem like words, of all the words you can think of, that would be the most pungent but I’ll be damned if I don’t think of this more often than I’d like to ever admit.
“WHY DON’T YOU GO CRY TO YOUR NANA?”
“OH WAIT, S H E ‘ S D E A D.”
“ — Y O U C A N ‘ T — “
Even in my most healed of mindsets, my most gentle of being, and desperately trying to rid my sailor’s mouth, in that situation today I don’t think a single thing would come out of my mouth today besides “you.mother.fucker” — now these memories come from a place of anger. This situation makes me angry in today’s mindset. However, in the mindset of a barely 12-year-old… That was earth-shattering.
In the event you hadn’t noticed, we jumped back a few more years to give context to who the dude was that paid for my driver’s license test and I’m definitely not 22 years old today (thank God).
Before today I don’t think I ever paid credit to how much those words have stuck with me and replayed themselves in my mind. Why those? Of all the things I’ve heard in my life, why does it have to be those?
Maybe the sound of my reality coming to a screeching halt and getting bitch-slapped by the fact that yeah, she’s really gone. This is it. We are here now and here really fucking sucks. Maybe you just can’t tune out those sounds. After they hit you they’re stuck to you like a stupid chunk of dog crap you didn’t even know was on the ground and now is completely embedded in your sole (soul) for the rest of eternity. That kind of sticky.
Anyway, yeah that guy covered my $100 for my driving test. Guess you’re off the hook, Sam. We see you have a conscience. Later, man.
As fate would have it, I barely failed that test for failing to be able to parallel park a 1999 Dodge Durango with a like 3” tire offset. I was doomed from the start. Not to mention I was being tested on parallel parking in a town that very likely had never even heard the term before because there weren’t enough of them to ever NEED to parallel park ANYWHERE. I’m salty, whatever.
I don’t even know how we started fighting on the way home from that test. No idea there but cue another vivid as day memory from the bank. It’s early October in Alaska. Not really crappy weather but also not really friendly either. Whatever we’re fighting about has her good and pissed off, I have zero idea what I said but I do know it landed me a punch in the mouth and getting dropped off on the side of the highway. I was a good seven miles from anywhere indoors. Just left. With nothing. I don’t remember the rest of the day after I finally reached a store and went inside, it goes black from there.
Eventually, I scheduled another driving test and this time my dad paid for it. Super weird, right? So he had some settlement with the Department of Corrections in the state he’s in prison because they (truly) treated him like shit and in one way or another ended up breaking his hand while he was handcuffed. Definitely two sides to every story and I don’t know much of either but the fact that he walked away with money out of this deal I’m going to go ahead and say he’s probably on the right side of this one. It couldn’t have happened at a better time for me (for once) as this was one of the few times I would see something from my dad and it was $100 — which would cover my next driving test.
This story ends well enough because my next test was given by a very kind woman who gave me the benefit of the doubt on the parallel parking and passed my test. Bless you.
P.S. I’d rather walk seven miles to get where I’m going rather than to parallel park in front of it.
In case you had any doubt that maybe my mother is just the bad seed and surely I have to have some other close-knit relative to have rescued me let me tell you another story of the same year.
Earlier in the year, I went down south (lower 48 states) for a few months in one of the times I was kicked out of my house and along the way found an abandoned few day old puppy. Its siblings had died but it survived. I took this puppy and I bottle fed it, helped it go to the bathroom, stayed up around the clock with it, I went through some serious crap for this puppy and it was my best friend. Eventually, I returned to Alaska and brought the puppy with me. It was okay for a little while until a day we had to up and leave again. This time we were going to my grandmother’s (maternal – let’s call her Nyla). After all of the shit my mom always talked about her mom you’d think we wouldn’t be heading there but this is my life, you know? So we get there and things are okay for a day or two besides my sister and I going crazy because this town is full of wackjobs and there’s not even cell phone reception to anyone else on earth from this smoke-filled tin can trailer. We were only there for two weeks but Lord did it feel like an eternity.
After about three days, Nyla decides my dog can’t be there and needs to go to the pound. No objection from my mother, she holds no respect for animals or anything that would ever bring her children joy. She doesn’t tell me until we are all in the car driving to town and she pulls into the parking lot of the pound and tells me I need to go give them my dog. I fought like hell, screaming and crying and holding on to my dog for dear life. I had raised this puppy from its deathbed for fuck’s sake. With the help of the shelter workers, my mother managed to pry my dog from my numb, dead, grasp and I would never see her again. I would also never forgive my mother again. The look of blatant evil disregard is a look you will never forget.
Months later I asked about my dog to Nyla and she chuckles a little bit and goes, “oh, they put her to sleep, she couldn’t be adopted.” If you aren’t overwhelmed with the feeling of toxicity radiating from my words right now, I just don’t know if you’ll ever understand. The amount of hurt I felt that day is a hurt I don’t even have the words for even after all of these years. If you asked either of those women about it I guarantee you the both of them either have no recollection of this taking place or downplay it to an emotional teenager. Disgusting. Disgusting human beings. The general lack of care for anyone besides themselves astonishes me to this day.
— to be continued
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