It’s warm in here. The hot summer sun beats down on my world and gives my arms a farmer’s tan while I drive. I honk my horn and curse at the people around me. Stupid idiots; where did they learn to drive, the school for the blind? I curse again, because it’s cool, and because I can get away with it since my dad doesn’t know I’m here. No one knows I’m here. No one except my cohort in crime, Colleen, who sits to my right commenting on various oddities. Clearly I’m the better driver of the two, and thus I’m in the driver’s seat. My life has given me lightening quick reflexes and suspicious eyes, which means I can see danger up ahead on the road, from a hundred paces out. I love sounding like an old western.
Except today I’m not riding horseback. And I’m not in a sweet Steve McQueen ride either. I’m driving a bus. School bus, city charter bus, it doesn’t really matter; I’m the driver, which means I’m in charge. And none of my occupants are complaining that I’m only 11 years old. I look years beyond my age anyway, I’m sure they wouldn’t even notice. Except there are no occupants. It’s just me and Colleen, and our flourishing imaginations. We drive this bus 100 miles an hour. I’m sure it can go that fast in real life, because I live in LA, and everything in LA can go 100 miles an hour. And despite the fact that this bus is abandoned for some unknown reason in a back parking lot at a five and dime store by my house, it seems perfectly functional to me and Colleen.
True, we had to sneak in through the little side window by the driver’s side. Colleen is skinny, so I made her stick her long, lean body half through the window until she could pull the lever that would open the passenger door. And then I was able to come in, and simulate dropping money in the money box, and wave at all the make believe passengers that know me because we all take this bus every day. Except we don’t. Because this day is the first time I’ve ever seen the bus here.
Why aren’t there forty other kids playing in this bus? Are they crazy? This is the treasure hunt of a lifetime! Hot sun baking the insides of the bus a nice toasty 400°. Loud obnoxious horn to honk, though we try not to do it too often, so as not to draw attention to us. I don’t want some other smart ass punk forcing his way into our pleasure center. Especially since it took us a good hour to get in here. Or half hour. Telling time is tricky when you are eleven.
I turn the wheel madly, because some idiot on the road can’t seem to see my huge looming frame careening down the highway. Time for some glasses, you old geezer. Geesh. Had the movie “Speed” been invented yet, I would doubtless be pretending I had a bomb under my bus’ carriage, but I’m light years ahead of that movie. I don’t know, perhaps Sandra Bullock isn’t even born yet. Or maybe she is off somewhere making out with some pimply boy for the first time ever. I can’t worry about boys right now; I have a huge damn bus to drive.
This breaking into a bus business makes me feel like one of the Bowery Boys, and I imagine myself as a New York/Jersey type Italian mob kid, off for a joy ride in a stolen vehicle. Yeah, see? Or maybe I’m in a Hitchcockian short, and play the part of a murderer, desperately running from the law after brutally murdering an inconsiderate boss who overlooked me for a promotion. Better yet, I might be one of the detectives in Hitchcock’s “The Three Detectives” series, which I LOVE. Though of course they are all young boys my age. But maybe my daring acts, quick thinking and stupendous sleuthing skills would convince Hitchcock to write stories about a GIRL detective. Hmmm….I wonder if he is even still alive; maybe I could write him and pitch him the idea.
I have all day to come up with these fabulous ideas, and force Colleen into playing the sidekick to my hero. My fertile imagination is rippling like a frothy sea, eager to come up with a thousand scenarios for this bus ride…until the evil old man down the alley spies us in our luxury vehicle, and threatens to call the cops on us. On us? On eleven year olds? We didn’t leave this stupid bus here. And sure I’ve been wiggling the gear shift around all over the place, but it’s not like the keys are in here and we’re gunna take the bus to the beach. Like no one would notice on the road that they can’t actually see the driver of the big bus, because the head of the driver isn’t visible over the dashboard? Hello? Old man, are you serious?
Oh. Shit. Yes you are, and here you come wagging your old saggy arm at me! Guess this early minor rebellion of mine is over for now, but hopefully it can be continued later in life…
I did have to go to court in L.A. one day when I was in my twenties. And I made it through ok. But the build up to that day was scary. Because I didn’t always remember that I had DID, and hadn’t yet been diagnosed; so some parts of me knew I had to contend with other, inappropriate people taking over, and some parts of me were completely oblivious. And some parts of me didn’t give a shit.
I don’t know if I was supposed to go to court the day I went to the beach with Ken. Maybe I was supposed to go to school. Or work. Maybe I was supposed to pay my school tuition, or take someone somewhere after work, or meet someone for dinner. Maybe I had nothing at all planned. But I spontaneously went with him somewhere I hadn’t planned, and we had fun, and then got into an accident, followed by a serious make-out session. This might be a typical situation for an average person – go have a spontaneous day of fun. But for me it used to be dangerous. Because of what happened with Ken that day – the accident, and the intimacy.
I would like to say I can handle myself in situations. I always have been able to. But honestly, I don’t always handle the situation the way I would LIKE to handle it. There is a reckless side to me that used to come out and play. She hasn’t come out in a while, because the rest of us have done this “lock down” thing with her. And I’m not even sure to what degree she has been reckless. I have some ideas in my head, some things that I’m not quite sure are memories. Maybe the information in there is from a Sweet Valley High book I read in junior high. Maybe I had a dream one night, and I’ve walked around the rest of my life thinking it was a real situation instead of a dream. It’s hard to know when you have this condition.
But I do have ideas about the beach. Worries. Fears that maybe I hooked up with someone when I was in junior high and had a night of unprotected sex. And I seem to have ideas about meeting up with someone in a hotel, or an apartment he rented, and memories of a guy with a moped, and rainy nights in that boy’s arms. Who knows? If I could pretend I was in a band, I would just chalk all of this up to drugs and alcohol, and really good times that you can’t remember. But at least then I would have chosen these situations consciously. There is something terribly creepy about one personality in my system choosing to do reckless and possibly dangerous things that could hurt all of us, while the rest of us sit by and worry that we are going to be killed in a fit of passion or idiocy. And then the rest of us decide to forget, or pretend it didn’t happen, while we strangle hold the reckless child and lock her in a basement.
I mean, there’s no harm done, realistically. I never got pregnant. I never got an infectious disease. I never had to hitch-hike home from somewhere horrible. (that I can remember) But this is obviously why I had to do the lock down. Because things COULD have happened. I have gotten myself into some stupid and dangerous situations, and have managed to get out of them alive. But I don’t always remember HOW I got out of them. Did I smooth talk my way out? Sleep my way out? Fight my way out? Was it really not as dangerous as it seemed at the time? Should I still be mad at myself for letting myself get into those situations, or praise myself for getting out of them? Or was I in them to begin with, because maybe I made it all up?
The point is, I never have been able to be sure how I would respond. Life is full of surprises. You go to the bank to make a deposit, and the bank gets robbed. You stand in line to get a burger, and a drive by shooting leaves you one friend short. You can’t predict things. For me, that has just meant that if something bad, scary, strange, interesting, dangerous, exciting or unexpected happens, I never know WHO in my system might react to it. And if someone reckless comes out to deal with the situation (which seriously hasn’t happened in a long long while), how long will they be out, and how much damage will they do?
Interestingly enough, since working on these blogs I have been contacted by a friend from my past, who was also Ken’s best friend. Random, that he should befriend me on Facebook now, as I’m looking at this time in my life. And I came home and bawled.
This week, looking at this time in my past has been difficult. I’ve relived the scary emotions I had back then, which will be other posts in the future. I’ve remembered disconnect and loneliness, isolation and homelessness. I’ve remembered crazy and dark and fearful. Invisible, empty and uncertain. But maybe that’s not my big issue. Maybe all of this has been emotional and difficult for me because of Ken. I truly fell for him, and we spent time together, and had this spark that never went away. He made plans with me, made comments that implied he wanted to get serious with me – like, SERIOUS – only to move on to an ex-girlfriend before anyone even knew we had something going. But we still had something going anyway. Our relationship didn’t continue when he got married to his ex, but the spark did. Whenever we were around each other we clicked, and people would look at us funny like they’d missed part of a joke. His wife even watched me with heavy eyes, as though she weren’t sure about the situation. There wasn’t anything going on, we never even had sex. But there was some connection we had, and maybe that’s my issue.
I’m afraid. I’m afraid of only ever being the almost lover. I’ve dated and loved and been loved. But more often, I have loved and waited and worried and wondered and remained an almost lover. I have watched as relationships started and blossomed, and promised me something potentially wonderful, only to have the whole thing disintegrate before I even get a chance to embrace it. It’s like a snowflake in my hand, melting away before my eyes, without me even having the opportunity to see its beauty, or appreciate the wonder of it. I’ve lost many lovers this way. Men that I dreamt would be an ideal mate. Men that were possibilities but not realities. Some were men that I had intense and long relationships with. One of them was my best friend for ten years, and really when we went our separate ways, it felt like a divorce. We had shared so many intimate moments and emotions, old scars and secrets, vacations and holidays and worries. We told each other everything, and did everything together. Losing him was the worst breakup ever, and we’d never even kissed.
Is this the life I am destined for? Like a character out of the Age of Innocence, am I forever slated to play the part of the sore hearted? The one that men want to touch and want to love, but never do? Am I the woman that will always be smiling and loving, supporting and understanding, knowing what she wants and never able to tighten her grip on it? Will I always be on the outside looking in?
Gods I hope not. But when I look back at that time in California, the outside is all I ever knew. Other people seemed able to have love and relationships, and friends and real connections. I seemed to only be on the outside. I had lots of friends, and participated in lots of social activities. But I didn’t belong to anyone. I was away from my family, and didn’t ever feel connected to them anyway, and in this huge bustling city of Long Beach, there were so many people that didn’t know me, didn’t want to know me, and wouldn’t care if I disappeared. I had friends, yes, but they weren’t obligated to care about me or love me. I didn’t have anyone that needed me, or anyone that I could need. I was a runaway, with a pasted on smile and a lot of silliness that fooled everyone into thinking I was normal. But I was a runaway still.
So here I am all these years later, tired of running, and deciding to plant my feet firmly into the now. My old me’s keep popping up to haunt me. Or maybe more accurately, they are just standing up to be counted. So I’m glad for that, and I try to acknowledge them as they pop up. But it is hard. Difficult. Saddening. It makes me feel regret and loneliness. It touches old wounds like isolation and madness, and stirs them up silly, until they feel like they want to bleed again. Ok, so bleed if you will. It’s a part of who I am; but only a PART. There are many other parts that are hopeful, and strong, creative and determined, and ready for LOVE. So yeah, maybe I have a Wild Child buried in my closet of people. Maybe I have hang-ups and questions about what she did, what her history is, and what sad and horrible feelings she has tucked away. But maybe the rest of me can hold onto my collective belief in LOVE long enough to bring it to life around me. Maybe LOVE will come to me finally, and allow me to hold it in my arms for longer than not long. Maybe the crazies in me and the wild ones in me will all agree to be at the same place at the same time for once, and finally let LOVE in. And maybe, if I say pretty please with sugar on top, maybe LOVE will stay.
it’s early in the morning, and i am afraid to go back to sleep. afraid i will dream again.
i’ve been watching a TV show, which is now off the air. my sister watched the last few seasons of the series before it went off, but since i’d missed the first few, i told her i’d wait and catch the episodes later. so here we are, working our way through the storyline, DVD after DVD. it’s an amazing, addicting, fascinating show. and surprisingly difficult for me.
this show is all about war, and survival. the end of the human race. and maybe you know it, but i’m afraid to write the name down. because it is such an amazing show, and i’m feeling so very besmirched by my own dark side, i wouldn’t want to sully it. because the show’s intensity, and fear, and tension; the dire circumstances, the threat of death at every turn…it all reminds me of childhood. it reminds me of home.
i dreamt a horrible dream last night. a dream where horrible things made me take flight. i was lucky enough, because in this dream the horror wasn’t happening to me, which was not true in my childhood. but i blew the whistle on the situation, and then the flight was mine, and the fight as well. i drew attention to myself, like i’ve done too many times in my life. i don’t know why i can’t just shut myself up. and because i was trying to protect someone else, my life was suddenly being threatened.
so i raced down the hall, knowing that my life was in eminent danger, and tried to bury myself in a room, as if locks and doors could keep away those in power. i ran to the windows to try my way out, but the two in the room were the tiny, slanted windows you find in basements. they were long, foreshortened, narrow and opened up at the top, while staying hinged at the bottom.
and in the dream, it is just like it was in real life: the hard beating of the heart as i try to squeeze my body into a tiny space. the heat of my skin, as my body revs up, preparing itself for a fight to the death. my head pounding, vision unsteady, eyes betraying me and wanting to cry, while my breath is ragged and forcing itself out of my chest. my hands shaking, as i try to do some task – take the screen off the window, HURRY! – while my brain is racing twelve steps ahead, and my body feels like it is running through a field of molasses. i’m wild. i’m feral. this is the place i call “scritchy”. i could claw someone’s eyes out. i could climb myself out of a cavernous pit, just using the chewed-down nails on my fingers to pull myself up with. i’m so goddamned determined to live.
it would have been easier if i’d just laid down and died. in the dream and in real life. it would have been an easier outcome if i’d just ended the whole journey somehow. but in the dream, as in real life, i truly manage to get out the window. and in the dream, as in real life, i still can’t manage to get away in time. i’m caught in the back yard of the house, thinking i will be able to be free finally, of the nauseating scene from inside the walls. but i find this woman outside. she’s one of the bad people, and it doesn’t seem she expected me, but i don’t think she cares. i think she’ll be happy to kill me, surprised or not. so i take my long handled scissors, and plunge them into her.
THAT i never got to do in real life. and thank the gods, because it’s messy. and reminds me a great deal of the TV show i am watching. somehow this show seems to capture it. the horror. the fear. the intense anger. the craziness of it all. and then the need to proceed on to the next day, where it will all start over again, and you will have to continue the same fight, with the same players, and pretend that you have the strength for it, and pretend that you aren’t so tired that if you blink too long you might stay asleep forever. so you pick up your weapon, wipe the blood off of it and your face, and you have yourself some breakfast. corn flakes, perhaps, because those are nice and predictable.
and when you think you are crazy enough, you try to go back to sleep, and tell yourself this time you will dream about marshmallows and dancing colored teddy bears, instead of the life you lived so long ago, that you’ve been trying so desperately to avoid.