I sometimes find myself in a rut when it comes to new ideas to write about. So in the interim, I am going to share a story that I wrote in high school. I gave it the title “Him”, partially because it was about a guy, but also because I had fallen in love with the band HIM around that time. It was based on true events, and I wrote it and handed it in as part of a project we were working on in English class. For the life of me, I’m not sure how or why I would’ve exposed myself in that way, except that writing has always been my release and it’s the place where I am best able to express myself, particularly my emotions. I also felt very alone at that time because I had created a whirlwind of drama for myself by handling the situation in exactly the way most women who are scorned wish that they could behave, except they don’t actually do it, and I opted to go ape shit instead.
I also find it interesting to go back and look at work I kept from 15-20 years ago. If it’s based on something you personally experienced, then you have to relive it all over again. It’s difficult to re-read it and put myself back in the same shoes I was in so long ago, but also awesome to see how far I’ve evolved from that person I used to be, both mentally and artistically. It’s awful in a way, because you want to edit the shit out of it and write it the way your 33 year-old self would write it, but in this instance I am going to write it all out exactly as it is written in this Duo-Tang. Hey, when was the last time you heard someone use Duo-Tang in a sentence?
I paced back and forth across my room, pulling on some clothes reluctantly as my sister perched on my bed and watched me with only half of the amusement she usually got out of my misfortune. Tonight was more than that, and I think for once she understood the intensity of my situation. No; tonight she looked almost sympathetic, and had I not been shaking so badly I probably would have noticed her presence more and appreciated it.
I only had about fifteen minutes between the time of his phone call and the time of his arrival. A part of me was honestly terrified that he would hit me in his rage–according to his ex-girlfriend, it was not out of character for him. The other part of me was terrified that maybe I deserved it.
My mind was reeling with a million thoughts all consuming me at once, the most dominant being the knowledge that this was it. This was my last night, our last night, and there really wasn’t anything I could say or do to change the outcome of his visit.
Time was running out, and it was already past midnight. I didn’t want the rest of my family to wake up and get involved in what was happening, so I made my way silently down the stairs and and snuck out the sliding doors that led out to the deck. I brought the dog out with me because I knew she would cry at the door and wake everyone up if I left without her.
When I saw the truck coming up the road in front of my house, I let the dog back in and walked up the road to meet him. My heart was in my throat. Would I lay down and die, as I always had? Would I give in again with my tail between my legs? Or would I say the things that would put an end to the never-ending cycle of happiness versus pain that we’d been putting each other through since we met? This was it, my moment of truth.
He motioned for me to get in, then drove slowly for two blocks before saying anything to me.
“Who exactly did you tell?” he demanded.
There was no use in trying to soften the blow and I knew it would only dig me deeper. “I told everyone,” I said. “I told them everything ..”
“Did you tell them about Ashley?”
Suddenly he put the truck in park and smashed his fist off the steering wheel. I started, and he began to cry . . . little whimpers in his throat followed by an onslaught of tears that I’d only imagined before but had never seen face to face. My heart stopped–I was so frightened of this moment, of his tears, and of the fact that I was the reason for them. At the same time, however, I would not have acted the way I had if he hadn’t knowingly shattered my heart, and with it my world.
“Get out,” he said suddenly. I could have gotten out at that second, and everything would have gone unsettled, all our feelings unsaid. There would be no real ending to this gorgeous friendship, just a lifetime of asking myself “What if . . . ?”
“No!” I yelled back, so angry at him for betraying me for someone he barely knew. A year and a half of being together every day, of loving each other from a distance for so long and then suddenly so close up, all thrown away at my expense. All those memories lost and wasted . . . why shouldn’t he have a taste of my pain? Why should he get out of this as though we had never existed together in the first place?
He leaned across me and pulled the door handle, pushing my door open and trying to shove me out of it. I held fast, jamming my feet to the floor and my hands to the door frame above me. He continued to push, and I tried to pry his hands off of me.
“Don’t touch me,” he screamed into my face, and I shoved him back to his side of the truck.
“Don’t YOU touch ME!”
He flung his own door open, and a piece of the plastic interior fell onto the pavement with the force of his anger. He swore and picked it up, throwing it onto the floor by the pedals before turning and running into the darkness of the field on the other side of the road. I sat there momentarily, stunned, then stuck my head out of the open door and yelled, “Where are you going to go?”
I saw him fall to his knees not far into the field, and suddenly I was out of the truck and flying towards him as fast as my legs would carry me. I could hear his sobs even before I reached him. When I tried to help him up he pushed me away and stood up, heading back toward the road.
I beat him to the truck, knowing that if he had gotten to it first he would have driven away and left me standing there without the closure I so badly desired. I couldn’t let it end like this, caught up in a fury of emotion and adrenaline like it had always been with him. He never wanted to listen; he always tried to run when something went wrong. Until now, I’d always been able to stop him before he could run too far away.
He sat back in the truck and tried to get me out again, but once more I resisted.
“What did you expect, Justin?” I asked him. “Look at what you did to me! What did you expect? I feel like an idiot!”
“Oh you really screwed me,” he said. “It’s perfect. It’s like it came right out of a movie. Congratulations. You didn’t want to ever run back again. You got what you wanted, right? You should be happy.”
“I didn’t expect it to be like this, but why should I just continue to lie to everyone? I’m sick of lying. They have a right to know. All we ever did was lie to them.”
“Rob is going to hate me when he finds out!” he cried.
“You obviously didn’t care too much about what Rob would think if you went ahead and did it anyway.”
He was silent. Realizing that he wasn’t going to get me out yet, he drove around the subdivision until we were beside my house again. I made him turn the truck off, and we sat there in silence for awhile before I opened my mouth to speak. He cut me off, begging me to please just get out, having lost his initial bout of anger and crying softly. When I refused, we went through another struggle before I won and shut my door again.
“If you would just stop screaming at me and get out of my face!” I said. He stopped and looked at me. “I’ll leave you alone if you listen to me for a minute.” We had been yelling at each other so closely that all I could see of his face were his angry, pain-filled blue eyes.
“Fine,” he said finally. “I have nothing to say to you.” He slumped himself against his side of the truck so that he was as far away from me as possible, and stared out the window, not wanting me to see him in tears.
I started to cry. “Justin, don’t you think I wish this had never happened? I feel just as awful as you do. Do you know how much it hurts to see you like this? You’re my everything, and you won’t even look me in the eye. It’s killing me.” We were both crying now, together and yet so very much apart.
“I don’t understand why you would do this,” I went on. “I told you in the beginning that I’d rather know what you were doing than wonder. You always stressed the importance of communication with us, and I told you everything, even when it almost made me lose you. And even after all this happened, I asked you for an hour of your time to try to fix it. You wouldn’t even try.”
“Because I felt like so much shit for what I’d done to you,” he sobbed. “I couldn’t face you after that.”
I cried harder still. I had never known a moment of my life to be filled with this much love and pain and sadness, and I will never feel another situation with such intensity again. I loved him so much.
“Please just think about this, really think about it, before you throw it all away. I know it’s not much to give up at this point, but right now we have nothing to hide. I’ve already lost you, so how could I possibly benefit from lying to you anymore? If you can find it in you to forgive me, I’ll pretend like none of this happened and I’ll never mention it again. I don’t want to be with you, not anymore, but I can’t lose you. We’ll both start over with a clean slate.”
He was silent for awhile, then he looked at me finally, his gorgeous blue eyes shining. “Just give me time,” he said softly.
“You’re beautiful even when you hate me,” I said, and he smiled a little. “If anyone bothers you about all this, send them to me and tell them it’s my fault.”
“I’m so sorry, Justin.”
I reached out a tentative hand, feeling the warm, bristly comfort of his hair sliding below my fingertips for the last time.
“I love you.”
I leaned forward and cupped his face in my hands, bringing my lips to his forehead to kiss him softly. He smiled, and the warmth and sadness in his beautiful face broke my heart all over again. Turning slowly, I got out of the truck and closed the door behind me.
Like he had always done every night before, he waited until I had gone inside and closed the door behind me before he drove away.
Naturally, given the nature of this story, the names have been changed, and since I was using it for school there was a lot of information I had to leave out because of the length and also because it had just happened. But it was about the goodbye. The closure.
It was a clusterfuck of a situation if I have ever been in one, and I will share it with you now as best I can because it is something that took precedence in my life for a very long time.
In high school, I was friends with “the guys”. I would leave school almost every day and go to my friend’s house and smoke pot with him and all of his guy friends. I met people that way, and I felt very special to be included in the outings and lunch break trips to McDonald’s and Burger King that we would go on. I was very proud to have these guys as friends, and to be a cool enough chick to hang out with them on the regular. It was usually myself, my best friend, and whoever else we were with, plus about 5 guys, all smoking joints in the basement and watching CKY and Dave Chappelle stoned out of our faces. I learned to drive standard before I learned to drive an automatic, because I wanted to be the kind of girl who could drive stick. And I still drive a standard car to this day.
A couple of these guys were absolutely hilarious, especially when they were together. They’d find random objects on the floor and smoke them–bubble gum, ants, whatever they could find. They’d light my socks on fire while I was minding my own business. They’d take our cigarettes from us and smash them into bits on the pavement because they didn’t want us to smoke. We’d get a wooden end table and put a blanket on top of it, and everyone would lie on their stomachs with our heads under the blanket and hot box this little end table. One winter we grabbed as much random furniture as we could find in my friend’s garage and took it all to Seaway Hill (which is a HUGE, steep hill next to the Welland Canal), and then proceeded to sit on whatever it was; a table top, a recliner, a couch, and we rode down the hill in the freezing cold and then dragged that shit back up to the top to do it again. One of these guys ended up passing away around this time–I remember he was there that night, and he gave me his gloves because my fingers were so numb. It might be one of the last times I remember seeing him.
We were pretty close-knit, but after a while it ended up being just the four of us a lot of the time–myself and my best friend, and this guy “Justin” and his best friend. We would pick them up in her car and we’d drive around listening to Sublime and Face to Face and Pantera and Hawksley Workman, and they’d sit in the back seat and burn joints and raise all hell. Yelling out the window, farting, ripping up a magazine page by page until the back seat was a sea of crumpled paper balls. I distinctly remember that she and I once stopped at a corner store and bought them each one of those children’s “Surprise Bags” to keep them entertained, and the fucking things had kazoos in them which just caused even more of a riot in the car.
Anyway, we loved them, and I think they loved us too. I became very close with Justin, and sometimes we would hang out alone. He was dating a girl at the time, and we would often hang out all together, so she and I became friends as well. The plot thickens!
I began to fall in love with him. I couldn’t help it. He had this personality that I had never experienced before–he was just hilarious, very intelligent, very sarcastic, spontaneous and fun. He was addictive to be around. He had this huge ridiculous beard that made him look Amish and he’d come to school with shit stuck inside the beard and do stupid shit like wearing a unicorn shirt complete with beaded tassels over his regular clothes. He wasn’t my usual type, (I realize I’ve written this before lmao), but I could not get him out of my head. He was my first love. I kept it to myself for a very long time. We were friends for probably a year and a half before I started to feel like maybe he had feelings for me too. One night we were watching a movie, and we would always cuddle and rough house as friends, but I remember he laid down behind me on the couch and I could feel his breath and then he kissed me on the back of my neck. I was confused and conflicted–he was still in a relationship, and we both loved his girlfriend, but inside I was selfish and I wanted him to be mine. Our connection was undeniable. Anyway I remember him leaving that night and things feeling a bit sad.
Shortly after this happened, he and his girlfriend broke up. I had my wisdom teeth taken out and was holed up in my bedroom and away from school for 10 days. I’ll never forget the one day, he came to visit me and take care of me, and I was lying on my gross single mattress on the floor with the sun shining in the windows, and he came and laid beside me and we fell asleep like that, holding each other. We had our first kiss, and then he became the second person I had ever slept with, and it was probably the third or fourth time I had ever had sex in total. So it was awkward, and I was nervous and giggly and worried that I wasn’t doing things right, and I’m sure it wasn’t the greatest time. But I was in love with him. It happened a couple more times in the next few weeks, but again I was very inexperienced and I wanted him to be happy with me but I was out of my element.
At the same time as all of this was going on, Justin had another very close friend, “Rob”, who he was with all of the time. Rob had a crush on a younger girl who had just come into high school and was in grade 9, she’s my “Ashley” in this story. She and Rob became best friends too, just like Justin and I. Sometimes we would all hang out and smoke joints together, so I knew her a little.
One day I went to the washroom while I was in Communications class and Ashley was in there crying. I asked her if everything was okay. She told me that her father had asked her to take her clothes off for him in exchange for money, on more than one occasion. Instantly my “mother hen” instinct clicked in and I insisted that she come to my place after school and spend the night while we figured out what to do.
My mom called Family and Children’s Services and it was determined that Ashley should stay with us while they did their investigation or whatever it was they were doing. She stayed with me for about two weeks, rent-free, all expenses paid by my parents; we fed her, we took her into our home and treated her as family. She did not lift a finger to help out around the house the entire time she was there, but instead opted to smoke a lot of weed and zone out. Which is fine, I mean I understand the gravity of that fucked-up situation, but my mom wasn’t too pleased with her by the end of it.
Because of our close proximity, Ashley and I became closer and I ended up telling her I loved Justin and that we had been together. I poured my heart out to her about him, just gushed for hours. And then one day, he came to my house and picked her up, without me.
The next time I saw her I confronted her and she told me that they had been having sex as well. She was unapologetic and unsympathetic, almost smug about the whole thing. She was 3 or 4 years younger than me, and at that time in our lives, every year made a difference as far as maturity levels go. She was 14 and he was 18 or 19. She would have a temper tantrum if she couldn’t get her hair to iron straight–with an actual iron. She’d have a meltdown and cry like a child–over her hair. I believe that she was angry with me for turning her life upside down–her parents split up for a while and her father moved out of the house while he went through some sort of rehabilitation or treatment or something. But what was I supposed to do, ignore the fact that she was not in a good place if she stayed at home? Let her live with that? I had to help her. She may not have seen it that way, but really, what choice did I actually have except to try to keep her safe and protected? Her father made his own bed, that wasn’t anyone else’s fault. I believe they are back together now, her parents, so I guess that’s a good thing?
I confessed to Justin’s ex that we had slept together and discovered that they had also still been sleeping together at the same time, although they were not together anymore. So not only was there one other woman, there were two. And I was technically one of them, because he was hers first and I betrayed her friendship and lost her as well. It was a GIANT clusterfuck.
So needless to say, this information destroyed my life as I knew it. My friend was newly single, I am sure he wanted to enjoy some of his freedom, but he knew how much I loved him. We had something special. I couldn’t understand how he could hurt me like that, and let me tell you I was angry. Angrier than I have ever been in my life. I told anyone and everyone who would listen to me. It became the talk at school. He was too old for her and she was going through some rough shit. The whole thing was just wrong.
Naturally, Rob found out that Justin and Ashley had slept together, so not only was Justin upset that everyone knew what he’d been up to, he had lost one of his best friends. I basically made the rest of his high school experience a total disaster.
Looking back on it now, I wish I had just kept my mouth shut and let it blow over. Maybe things would have ended up completely differently. But your head is not on straight and you’re not thinking clearly when you feel like you’ve been cheated on by not one, but two people. They ended up dating for a couple of years afterwards, so even when he graduated and I thought I wouldn’t have to see him anymore, he would still come to pick her up after school in his big truck and I’d be standing in the smoke pit staring at him like a lost puppy dog. She’d smirk at me and get in beside him and they’d drive off. It was insanely awkward and painful. I’d be so livid I wished I could hit her and wipe that smile off her face, but I never did it. I heard she even had the nerve to tell people that our family was trash–after we took her into our home with open arms and fed her and kept her safe in one of her most vulnerable moments. She may as well have spit directly into my face. He removed himself from all forms of social media and basically fell off the face of the earth.
I know he was my first real love because my heart was broken over him for probably close to ten years. Even when I was married, I would be sleeping next to my husband and I’d have dreams about him. Not sexual dreams, but sad dreams, dreams where he was holding me the way he did that one sunny day in my bedroom. They’d be so vivid I wondered if he was having the same dream at the same time. I’d wake up and cry because I wanted to go back to sleep so that I could be with him again. I’d wake up crying next to my husband because I was dreaming about someone else. Mind you, my husband was a complete jackass, so that’s not too hard to imagine now that I think about it.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with him for an hour or two during a UFC fight we were watching a few years ago. I went to Rob’s house with my main guy friend from high school, the one who got us all together in the first place, and we smoked like old times and I got so high I could barely talk. It was also my first time ever seeing Ronda Rousey fight, and she instantly became my new heroine. I was literally shaking from my nerves, just because I was sitting next to him. Every movement of my head, every facial expression, I was uncomfortably aware of myself. I mean, we barely spoke to each other at all, but it was a start.
One morning a year or two after that, the morning after our annual Christmas party at work, I was leaving the parking garage, wearing clothes from the day before and yesterday’s makeup and hair, but I still looked pretty damn good. And I looked up and he was walking in front of my car. I rolled down the window and yelled “Hey!” and we talked for a minute, just small talk, but there was someone behind me waiting for me to move, so I had to keep going. Later on I heard he’d told someone he’d seen me and said that I had “Grown up well,” or something along those lines, which I am going to take as a compliment because I know I looked damn hot that day.
It was nicer than the nothingness I’d had for years.
If he ever read this, I would want him to know how sorry I am for the way I behaved, from the bottom of my heart. It might be nothing to him now, but at the time it was everything to me. No matter what happened, I always expected we would still be friends. If I could go back and do things differently, I definitely would, but I’m sure we all feel that way about the mistakes we’ve made in the past. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Now I am a grown woman, with a full-time job, three kids and a fiance whom I love with all my heart. I trust him with my life and I know he always has my best interests in mind, even in moments when I don’t have them in mind myself. We know each other well, communicate remarkably most of the time, and make a fantastic team. My life is much quieter and more peaceful than the dramatic shit-storm this story is based on. But I find it helps to write about my own personal experiences. I know them better than any story I could ever fabricate. But these people who have touched my life in one way or another, they’ve helped to shape me into the woman I am today. They made me stronger. They taught me valuable lessons. He was my first love, the most innocent, naive kind of love, and I will always hold him dear to my heart. There’s room in there for everyone, now that I’m on the mend.