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Monday, February 23, 2015

Fantastic Day!


All week, I've been wanting to write about Jason.  I put a few sentences together, but I hated what I'd written.  The details read like insipid tidbits from a brochure on emotional immaturity, written by a ridiculously self-absorbed young girl.

We were introduced at a party.  We both had just shaved our heads.  His to emphasize his recent enlistment in the military.  Mine, I did for the shock value.  It was 1984.  We started dating right away.  We listened to the same music.  Jason had a car and a job.  Lots of great friends who made me feel clever and part of a fun-loving group.  Plus, it seemed as though he really liked me, and that was very important.

I cringe when I think back to being twenty one years old.  Grown-up style decisions were being made all around me.  People I knew were getting engaged, left and right.  My sister had gotten married and instantly turned into an adult.  I guess I'd always seen myself as being pretty smart, but I didn't have any solid plans for the future.  I barely knew how to get to work on time.

These terrifying thoughts bounced around in my otherwise empty mind.  My mother was right.  I wouldn't know a good idea if it bit me in the ass.  She was right about a lot of things, but man, was she mean.  I wasn't about to let that woman tell me how to live my life.  Or call me a whore one more time.  That's why I moved out.

Jason was a reasonable guy.  In ways, I wish I could have discouraged him from getting involved with the likes of me.  I totally misrepresented myself.  I wanted to be ready for responsible love, but I wasn't.

I suppose I was already drinking alcoholically by the time we met, but it felt like I was just getting started.  Especially because I wasn't sneaking in and out of the house anymore.  I didn't have to reel myself in as much.  A few beers always gave me the courage I lacked.  A couple more, and I felt pretty damn confident.  I could smoke my weed and do all kinds of new and exciting drugs.  Getting fucked up helped me climb up over my fears and free fall into each perfectly reckless synthetic moment.

My getting together with Jason had very little to do with him at all.

I don't love my first husband anymore.  But he deserved a better companion.  I was unfaithful and negligent in our relationship.  Then I lied about it.  And I held onto that lie like it was the truth.  For years.  I know I didn't ruin his life, but I made him sad for a very long time.  We had a child, and I bailed on that responsibility, as well.  I'm embarrassed by all the foolish things I did.  I wish I could go back and change the past.  But since I can't, at least it feels good to be honest.

In a far corner of my mind, I wonder if Jason might read what I've written someday.  I want to be careful and fair with what I say about him.  I picture him reprimanding me again.  Many years have passed since something like that has happened but unfortunately, it was the nature of our relationship.  It's difficult to envision much of anything else.

I'm 51 years old, and I'm still afraid somebody's gonna yell at me.

*******

"Please don't leave," I begged.

We'd had such a fantastic day.  Driving around and getting to know one another.  I didn't want it to end.  I sat on the edge of the mattress in that shithole I was renting.  I'd moved out of my parents' house so I could be free, but I still felt trapped in every way.

Jason slipped back into his shoes and gathered up his keys.

"I have to go," he said.  "I told my mother I'd be home tonight.  Besides, we've both got work tomorrow."

"Please stay."

I tried to insist, but he was already zipping his coat.

"Just go to sleep," he suggested.  "When you wake up, it'll be morning.  This isn't the end of the world, you know."

He made it sound so easy.  Like being alone was something people actually enjoyed.

Jason had much more discipline than I did.  It's one of the things I admired about him.  He was sturdy and goal oriented.  He arrived on the scene with no obvious emotional issues.  I kept mine well-hidden.  I didn't want to scare him off.

I laid there in the darkness for a few minutes.  I hated being by myself.  I missed my mother and couldn't figure out why.  I knew she was furious and disappointed with me.  I never should have left home.  But I did, and I couldn't go back.

I switched on the lamp and got out of bed.  I went to the refrigerator and retrieved two cans of beer.  I stood at the kitchen sink and drank them both, real fast.  I decided to bake a cake and bring it to work the next day.  That'd be a nice thing to do.

I turned on a few records and played them over and over.  I laid down in front of the stereo and disappeared into the music.  I sang along with each tune, glad for the lyrics printed on the corresponding jacket covers.

I drank three more beers and then another.  At some point, I got up to check on the cake.  Both pans of batter were black and burnt beyond recognition.  The whole apartment was filled with smoke.  I stumbled into the bathroom and threw up all over the floor.

I crawled into bed, falling asleep with the lights and the oven still on.

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