Sunday, November 19, 2006

I remember waking up in that tiny bathroom of my apartment on Angeleno. I had passed out next to the toilet and as I was waking up my head was throbbing, and my tongue felt like a huge dry sponge in my mouth. As my vision slowly cleared I saw the first of the blood. Shit, it was everywhere! On my hands, my nightgown, my legs, the toilet seat, the sink, and even the mirror. I panicked. I had no idea where all this blood had come from and who's it even was, although a little tiny voice in the back of my head was trying to tell me something. I ignored it, stood up carefully, and looked in the mirror. It was all over my face, too. I became convinced that someone must have broken into my apartment and accosted me. Again, the tiny voice was nagging. Again I ignored it and went in search of this assailant. Now some part of me must have been sort of listening to that nagging little voice or I imagine I would have been more afraid to charge out of the bathroom and confront this ominous stranger.
I walked, actually staggered would be more accurate, out into the living room and looked at the front door. It was locked, deadbolt on, safety chain securely in place. That was weird, I thought. How did he get in and/or out? Now the voice was anything but tiny, and was very insistent that I listen. I still didn't want to hear it. I glanced around the living room and saw the empty pint of Cuervo Gold. Now I was beginning to listen. I went back into the bathroom and saw what I now knew would be there. Little pink pieces of the Good News Shaver all over the bottom of the sink. And the two little mangled razors I had managed to free from their plastic home.
I was scared. The cutting had always been very minimal. I had only done it a few times before that, and they were always very small cuts, and very controlled. I knew exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it. OK, not really why, but I knew that it would help ease whatever pain seemed to be too big for my head, or my heart, or my soul, or whatever. This was different. I couldn't remember doing it, and I still didn't know exactly how bad it was. The blood was everywhere but I still hadn't deciphered where on my body I had actually cut. I took a wash cloth and wet it. Started with my face, praying that there were no marks there. Any marks on the face would mean that people would find out. And that just could not happen. This was my dirty little secret.
The face was clear. No marks, no cuts. Thank God! The first cut I as able to uncover was on my upper left arm. It was very angry looking, and seemed pretty deep. Really deep. It was hard to tell because it was already so crusted over. There were five or six large trails of blood leading down the rest of the arm. I followed their trail with the wash cloth until I got to the cluster. A group of cuts at the wrist. Fuck! I had never cut anywhere near my wrists before, and the thought of having done so without even being able to remember it was making me cry. Accidental suicide could have happened, and that was never the purpose of the cutting, damn-it! It was a way to avoid suicide. It was how I.....coped, sometimes. As I cleaned those wounds, and the few others I discovered on my upper thighs (I had never cut myself so many times in a single episode before that) I was racking my brain to try and figure out what in the world could have caused me to do this to myself. Then suddenly I remembered. It was the fucking steak and rice thing.
I remembered Dan and I walking over to his house from work that night. He was holding my hand and as we neared the street where he lived a car came down the road. As soon as it approached, he snatched his hand away, ostensibly to show me something in the sky, or in a tree, I can't remember. But I knew the real reason. We'd been going out, or whatever it was we were doing, for 5 months, and some part of me must have already known what was going on. Although he was very loving and kind in front of my friends, who were the only people we ever seemed to hang around with, and although he seemed to love to have sex with me, and vice versa, he had never introduced me to any of his friends, and to his family I was just his friend, Tracy. Now the fact that his mom walked in on him and his friend Tracy, naked in his bed, apparently wasn't weird. In the back of my mind (again, the nagging little voice that I kept telling to shut the fuck up) I was aware that he was always taking me to out of the way places, like Disneyland, and movie theaters in far away towns.
I don't know why I picked that night to just force him to tell me the truth. I remember we were sitting in the room off of his kitchen. He was across the room in the armchair and I was on that couch against the wall. "Why did you snatch your hand away, Dan?", I asked him. "Why don't you ever introduce me to any of your friends. Why doesn't your sister, or your mother, or your dad know that we aren't just 'friends'?" He was getting really pissed and telling me to just shut up and drop it. I really wish I had listened, but, no, I had to keep grilling him until I could force him to say it. And then he did. Finally it just erupted out of him like he had no control, like the words were bitter on his tongue.
"I love you, Tracy, but I can't have you as my girlfriend. I have this image thing that I need to uphold, so I need a girlfriend who is thin and blond by my side, and that's not YOU!" Then he shouted at me, "Why did you have to make me tell you this? Why couldn't we have just gone on hanging out as friends and sleeping together?" I remember all that clearly, and then he went on to say something about being fat as a child and how disgusted he was by it and how he vowed he would never be fat again and some more stuff that I couldn't hear because my head was buzzing. I definitely heard the words "fat" and "disgusted" but most of the rest was lost. I might have imagined that part about him being fat as a child. I was so stunned. I think it must have felt like getting stabbed through the didn't really hurt, it just made me dizzy, and nauseas....and just, as I said, stunned. I was also confused by the fact that it seemed to be he who was so angry, when it should have been me. I can't remember what or if I said anything during his initial tirade, but I do remember what finally prompted me to speak. He made an analogy, then, I guess to try and help me understand where he was coming from (although I think it was pretty clear where he was coming from). He said, again very angrily, "It's like I am steak and you are rice, Tracy." That's it. That was the analogy (again this is all my subjective memory--maybe he elaborated some). As analogies go, it was pretty pathetic, I thought, and yet it hit some target deep inside of me, and the arrow must have broken clean off. I finally said to him, "No, Dan, you're wrong. I AM steak. I may be steak with some fat around the edges, but I am definitely steak. Steak is the main course, the thing you eat and it sticks by you. You remember it long after wards. Rice, on the other hand, is the secondary side dish that you barely remember after you eat it. That's you, Dan, not me. Take me home." (Now, I may not have been nearly that eloquent or composed, but that is how I remember saying it.)
Sounds like I was really strong, huh? Standing up for myself in the face of that kind of brutality? It was all bullshit, though. I felt like a big, fat, ugly pile of rice. I couldn't get that stupid analogy out of my head. He was basically, in my mind, saying I was too fat to love. Only one other person had ever said anything like that to me and she said it to me my whole mother, and she's a psycho. I knew he wasn't a psycho. So the only logical conclusion was that it had to be true.
After I cleaned myself up that night, I started to clean up my head so I could actually go out in public and not feel like a pile of rice, or whatever. I neatly tucked away every feeling and every experience I had ever had with Dan, along with the wonderful things he had made for me, like the orange paper mache giraffe (which I busted into pieces in a fit of rage), and the beautiful E.T. piece he had made for me that Christmas. I tucked them all away with the memories of riding the pirate ship at Disneyland, late at night while we kept sneaking sips of Blackberry Brandy, and how he stroked my head all the way home as I was lying next to him in his car, because the Brandy had given me a migraine headache. I tucked away the memories of him taking me to see Gandhi, and forcing me to read Siddhartha (which I loved) so we could discuss the idea of Nirvana, and I tucked away the pregnancy and the miscarriage, and him sneaking into my room through the window at Burbank Community Hospital, after visiting hours, with a single red rose. I tucked Dan away. It sucked because he was the first, and you know how they say that you never forget the first person you made love with? I knew I wasn't his first (not by a long shot), but why did he have to be mine? That made him harder to tuck completely away. But I did it. He didn't exist in my mind for so damned long. Not in my conscious mind, at least. And I made a vow to myself, never to fall in love again, so that I could never, ever be hurt like that and so that I would never, ever cut myself like that again. Too bad I broke that vow.


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