I’ve finished three chapters, and I am not sure if I should keep going with this particular book or start something else. Getting my story out on “paper” has made me wonder if I really need to tell it as there are still so many conflicts in my heart and mind. A good friend who was also affected by this person has encouraged me to complete this, but like I said, I am still feeling conflicted.
Rummaging through your past and memories can be tough, and especially if there is a trauma of some sort associated with them. Where my conflict lies is in whether or not I feel like I was taken advantage of.
Here are some facts to consider: The book starts the spring before I turned 16. I had been talking to a guy three years older than me and of a different race (it’s the deep south, no matter what some folks say now Arkansas IS the south), so at that point I’m already well versed in having a “clandestine” relationship – even if it’s only talking on the phone/at school and nothing else. I guess that is why the thought of having another one with someone else didn’t faze me. All I cared about was getting out of that hellish school, this hellish town, and living my life. Another fact was that I met this other person before he ended up being a teacher at my high school. Does that make things any better? Probably not, but that was my go-to justification. The thirteen-year age gap? Not a problem and my justification for that was my mom’s parents were 12 years apart. I had a reasonable explanation for everything.
When kids at school began to talk (and with a school as small as this one it was not a matter of if but when), what hurt me most was the hateful and hurtful remarks. Most of them were of the “There’s no way he would be talking to her” type and usually that was met with laughter and agreement. Even my own mother, when I finally admitted to the fact that he and I had been talking and not about what our next assignments would be, flat out refused to believe me. Ouch. So, what hurt me the most about these remarks? The fact that they made me feel less of a person, less of a woman – things that were my Achilles heel already, so they were pouring salt on an open wound.
Well, wounds eventually heal if you remove the irritants. Graduation finally freed me and funnily enough, he also left after I graduated. I can count on one hand how many times we have talked in the last 33 years, and it was never about our past. One was when I was trying to borrow his VHS of a JFK video we watched during Contemporary American History – I’m a conspiracy nut and this was pre-internet days so again, justification. I had just had my first child, his first was 2 and we congratulated each other on being married and parents. It was slightly awkward, but I thought we were doing ok as friends at this point. Another was about 8 years later when we exchanged hellos after we ran into each other during lunch at a restaurant downtown. He always had a way of saying that that was disarming…the bastard. Our boys played against each other in baseball, and I was secretly pleased when my son was the better athlete in that matchup. The last time we spoke was about 10 years after that when he called the staffing agency I worked at and requested some workers for clean up at the local plant he used to work at – he had been transferred years before to their Texas headquarters and was working in HR. I mentioned that I had recently helped his father with some glasses (former job was optician at the local eye clinic and I made sure I took care of his dad). Speaking of where he worked…my father was fit to be tied when he heard about my high school shenanigans with him, and Dad holds a grudge. This all culminated in an awkward encounter for them when my dad, who was already working for this company when they bought out/merged with the one he worked for, had to share an elevator AND keep his mouth shut. So, it’s been 12 years since the last time I’ve actually talked to him, and he clearly has no feelings for me or desire to talk to me ever again. I pretty much confirmed this when I sent a friend request to him on Facebook – he had accepted one from another student (male), so I thought why not? Denied and blocked from trying after that – yep, that speaks volumes. So much time had passed but apparently not enough.
I guess I really was the fool in all of this after all. And this is why I am writing my book.