Chapter 2. The Missed Out of Life
“I really want to talk about how we met. Can I do that? Please? Pleeeeease??”
“Yes of course, go ahead.”
“You seem to be in a good mood today. How do you feel?”
“I feel fabulous! I think the treatments are working.”
“Well, I remember things quite vividly, everything from when we met to the wedding. I can feel the memories too, like the smell of his cologne to how sweaty I was in my big wedding dress in that September heat wave. See? September! I remember it was September!”
“That’s good. What else?”
She’s smiling at me. I must really be getting better. I sort of half believed myself when I said the memories are coming back but I am in a super good mood today so I figure something’s going right and I wasn’t lying about those wedding day details so I guess there’s improvement. I mean, I’m sure I wasn’t lying, but did I get the details right? Did I forget and make it up? It’s so tangible. The touch of lace, the stickiness of sweet coconut cake and champagne, the pain in my arch from dancing in high heels.
“There was this nightclub I used to go to in New York called Don Hill’s. They had a Britpop club, which was amazing, and we used to dance like crazy. They’d also debut new bands. I saw the Strokes there before they were anybody. We’d party with the bands too. I was a total backstage girl. But that night Dog Man Star was playing, his band. I seriously could care less. I just wished the band would hurry and finish so they’d let the DJ play Britpop again and I could go back to my dancing. They seemed to play forever, and we just stood by the bar, silently watching, waiting for a finish. They finally did finish, and I finally got the chance to get back on the dance floor. It wasn’t long before I felt a tall shadow stepping along my side, same beat, but a little off kilter. He was at my side with a clipboard and asked if I wanted to sign up on their mailing list. I said no thanks and kept dancing. He egged me on, kept asking in different ways, saying things like ‘c’mon’ and ‘I saw you standing there from the stage and I had to talk to you.’ Things that seemed too smooth or too good to be true. I had to lift my head back to look at him because I was wearing one of those floppy felt hats. He kept tilting his head sideways, probably to catch a glimpse under my brim. He was tall so I could see his face that way. I told him I just wanted to dance, and so he danced along with me, clipboard in hand. Now, you have to keep in mind a bit of background, up to that point I’d never had a boyfriend before. I was 18, and had just arrived in New York for college. The closest I had to a boyfriend was a first kiss I’d had in the south of France on a family vacation just three years prior. I was so sure I was unkissable, unlikeable, and pretty much not on any rockstar radar, so this encounter was, in my mind, absurd. I think I did laugh in his face. He commented on that later.”
“What made you think you were unlikeable?”
“Umm..high school?” I laughed out loud. “I guess I wasn’t Hollywood material. Maybe too edgy for boys, mostly just insecure. Y’know, normal stuff.”
“Is it normal?”
“Yeah.” I wonder why she’s probing.
“And do you feel insecure now?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“You didn’t give it much thought did you?”
Well, because I wanted to get on with my story! Ugh, she does this a lot and I have to say it’s really annoying. Because then I get all mixed up in the thoughts and feelings, so many words, and I totally lose the story. I got it here, it’s all right, Don Hill’s, rockstars, what happens next? Oh yeah, we talk, I finally sign the mailing list and he invites me to an after party for the band. And then I get all weird at the party and don’t ever see him again. Oh. Yeah. I’m started to feel the embarrassment again.
“You’re feeling it now aren’t you? The embarrassment? The insecurity?”
And then she does this. Boom. I can’t quite remember. Good words would be good here, but all I see is how messed up that probably was. What was? Oh the party. So stupid! I should have known the reaction that would get. I was too old for tricks. I’m a desolate scum, tragic and pitiful. I’m the crestfallen bum, woe to when we knew better!
“It would be good for you to talk now. Put words to it.”
I felt something drop onto my hand. I looked down, there was blood. I guess the stress made my nosebleed. “Okay,” I started slowly, choosing my words carefully, abstemiously. “I decided to go to the party even though the possibilities were frightening.”
“Being vulnerable with a man.”
“That was frightening?”
“He was attractive and attracted. He asked me out without any hesitations and was a man who knew what he wanted.”
“That’s a good thing. Wasn’t that what you wanted?”
“I guess I wasn’t ready because I goofed it up. He tried asking me about myself and I made up stories, who I was, what I liked, what I did. I pretended to be someone so opposite of me.”
“Do you want to be someone opposite of you? You know that’s not possible. That’s not what the plan is, that won’t happen.”
“I didn’t even like it when I said it. The confident liar would have chosen suave, sophisticated, sexy. I chose awkward and uncomfortable. And still they were lies. He tried a few times to stay in there but ultimately I shut him down. He spent the rest of the evening with another girl who couldn’t keep her hands off him. Occasionally he’d look over at me with curious eyes. And I’d walk away devastated. Not for him, for me.”
“Is that what you remember? Exactly as you remember it?”
I looked down and there was now a round bloodstain on my skirt the size of a quarter. Every few seconds a drop would join it and spread its soak outwards. They were expanding and I was shrinking. And I’d started out so good today, hopeful. Someone once told me ‘hope sucks.’ Yup, it really does. Better to be with what’s happening.
I felt tired all of a sudden. Words were coming into my head, first in strong waves, then in ripples. I looked at her and she was still smiling. In fact, she’d been smiling the whole time. I couldn’t say anything so I pointed to her pen and paper. She handed them to me and I began to write. Every other sentence would have a small drop of claret mixed in with black ink, almost like a painting. Just like my mom said, the words were making a scary picture. I wrote everything I could remember from that night in vivid detail. But for some reason I couldn’t bring myself back to the flirtation, the pursuit, the moment we met. The words were words of desire, longing, and regret. Why didn’t I? Shouldn’t I have? All of the hypertension that accompanied trying to please a boy, the chagrin of being flustered by my own developed sexuality, and not knowing how to just be myself. I wish it was, I should have done, I was wrong.
Not in a violent way. It sounds somewhat depressing but it wasn’t. It was matter of fact. These thoughts and feelings had lingered, rested in some pocket of mind, found the perfectly fitted crevice to set up camp, brew and hibernate until now. Years had passed I’m sure, and moss had grown on these words of repentance, a strong thick layer of stick-to-itiveness that only such a moment as this could rattle into remembrance and re-existence. Those were the words I wrote. Storing what I’d missed out on, the missed out of life. I could probably write some of that gushy stuff but I’d already forgotten most of it anyway. They never had any pockets to rest it; they’d been chucked out into someone else’s total recall.