The following tale isn’t mine. I put some words to paper, to help someone put to words the experience, but this isn’t something I’ve had to experience myself. It is, however, the kind of story I’ve heard to many times, and every time I hear it I just want to rage, rampage, raise hell and destroy something. Or, more specifically, a someone, as these stories always have a someone who deserves to get run over.
But alas! Running people over is illegal (for now), so all I can do to help out is listen, and help put some of my friends feelings into something she can share. Because she lives with the hope that by sharing this moment, maybe somebody else will find it and pull something out of it, however small. That’s what I can do, what all of use can do. We can be there shoulder to cry on, and when asked, their microphone to the world. I can do that.
So that’s exactly what I am going to do.
I was a child when you took advantage of me. I was naive, wanting to believe in people and their capacity to do good. But I was aware of how reality wanted to swat that idealism right back into the 20th century, right back in my cartoonishly bright, unfounded faith.
It wasn’t all a waste. There were plenty of good days mixed into the shitty ones, and most probably fall squarely in the “Eh” category. I think time has something to do with the way I’m recalling things. I’m sure I had more brightness, more smiles and laughs, more fun running in the rain than crying alone, trying to disappear.
I know it must not have been as bad as I remember it.
You can’t be as bad as I remember you now.
Or maybe I’m just trying to protect you, to protect me.
I can admit I didn’t like everything we did. I didn’t like how fast things seemed to progress, but I don’t recall every telling you to slow down. I didn’t enjoy being laughed at for wanting to go to my friends roller skating birthday bash, but I can recall ditching them to go looking for an “adult party” with you.
I didn’t enjoy the taste of alcohol. Every drink, even a sip, would make me gag. I thought I would throw up, and I know plenty of times I did, but that was just another part of the fun; the cost of a good time, right? The memory is fussy, but I can still remember you offering me drink after drink, never telling me I had to, just saying how happy it would make you if I would just relax, chill out, have one more drink, because it would be the next one that would really loosen me up, and then I’d be having the time of my life.
I didn’t enjoy the smell of cigarettes. I hated the smoke, hated that little dot of heat so close to my mouth, but most of all I hated the taste. It felt thick, like I was swallowing pure honey. Only that honey was a bonfire. And the bonfire was missing all the elements that make them so great, like slow burning wood, clear summer nights, and friends who never shoved the bits of smoldering bark down your throat.
But you didn’t shove those cigarettes down my throat, no. You just calmly pulled out your pack of Marlboro Reds, stuck one in your mouth, then dangled another right in front of my face, like it was some sort of treat. And you wouldn’t just place it between my lips, no. You made me beg for it, like a fucking dog. You would put it close and pull it back, blow some smoke in my face and let out a little laugh. You could tell, anybody with eyes or ears or an IQ above 1 could tell, that I didn’t like this game.
Because it wasn’t a game.
I was a kid, and you weren’t the adult I thought you were, but I still I wanted to be cool, to be something. And you saw something in me, that’s what you said. You said you saw potential, saw somebody who could be somebody. I was unhappy in my life, but what was I doing? I was the first chair clarinet in band. I was part of the honor roll. I had perfect attendance, volleyball on weekends, and an ongoing goal of catching all 493 (currently created) Pokemon with my best friends.
I know my mistake, and I hate myself for that mistake, but I’m also able to admit that it wasn’t just me. I was naive. I wanted my old life and you. I never thought they’d be mutually exclusive. Even when I felt the tugging, I just convinced myself it would all work out. I’d smoke a few cigarettes, to look cool, but then I’d stop. I would drink some when you took me to parties, but then I’d stop. I would kiss you, and let you get to second base in your car because I didn’t want to be a prude, but then you’d stop. I would let you talk me into staying the night in a hotel over a holiday weekend, and I would let you join me in the shower, and I would let the hot water wash away my arguments, because after a few minutes you’d stop. And when I decided to stop drinking at your birthday party, so you said you’d drink enough for the both of us…and I fell asleep on your couch…and I woke up to a quiet room; everybody had gone home. And it was dark…and I was still buzzed…and I wanted you to have a good birthday…I wanted to be a good lover…I didn’t want to think about not wanting it…because I was so sure you’d stop…
I didn’t say no. I didn’t cry or scream, punch or kick. I didn’t do a damn thing. I might as well have been a fucking baked potato, for all the difference it would have made to the situation. So it was my fault. It had to be my fault. I was wrong to feel betrayed, because it was my choice, my lack of action, my inability to tell you to fuck off.
But I was a kid. And now I’m not. And I might still blame myself and hate myself for everything, but I’m grown up now. In fact, I’m still growing up. I learn more every day, and accept more of myself every day. I’m far from being wise, but I’ve gained just enough knowledge to see the past for what it was.
It wasn’t all a waste. There were plenty of good days, and a lot of “eh” sort of days.
I know it wasn’t all bad.
But you…are just as terrible as I’m remembering you, and probably even worse.
I’ll still blame myself, because that’s part of who I am, but I am done making excuses for my memories.