Trespassed. (part 1 of 2)

It was a Tuesday in either late august or early September or maybe it was in late July. Sometime during the warmer part of the summer of 2009, on a Tuesday around 1 p.m. I was wakened by a loud banging. “Dan, I think someone’s at the door.” No reaction. He just continued to lay there, flat on his back, mouth gaping, fast asleep – as usual. I decided that if he was asleep, I should be too. So I shrugged off the banging, assuming it was the mail carrier or the oil guy or someone who could just leave whatever they had on the porch and let us sleep. It really had nothing to do with me.

That’s when I heard stomping, followed by rapping on my bedroom window and “Dan, I know you’re in there! You need to come out here right fucking now!” It was Michelle.

As the stomps headed toward the other end of the porch that stretched the length of the front of my mother’s house, I glanced over at Dan who was now laying rigid, vaguely terrified, like he’d been caught in the middle of cleaning up a murder. His long, thinning, stringy bleach-blonde hair was disheveled and greasy as I got out of bed to peek at what was going on; my years of moving through my house, paranoid that a sniper might be aiming for me finally being of use. I crouched and hugged corners, catching sight of Michelle’s mini-van in my driveway and her frantic angry movement up and down my porch as she repeatedly yelled for Dan to stop hiding and come out to talk to her. I made my way back to my bedroom and stood in the doorway. “You really need to go out and get rid of her. What the fuck is she doing at my house?”

He just shrugged.

“If you don’t get rid of her, I will. She’s trespassing. I will call the cops,” I was using my best stage whisper and I was livid.

He voiced some disagreement.

“Dan, what the fuck. You need to man up and fucking deal with her.”

“Your car’s in the driveway, I know you’re here. How fucking stupid do you think I am?” She was still stomping around on my porch.

Dan sat there on my bed, a 29-year-old child, terrified he was in trouble; unsure what to do knowing he’d been caught. However, as we were exchanging tense words, she finally gave up and drove away.

“Why was she here? I thought you were supposed to meet her at 1:30,” I asked as I tried to slow my pulse and regain calm.

He was checking his phone now and he started feeding me some story about her being pissed that he didn’t show up at his father’s to see his son at 11:00 and that she had definitely told him 1:30 and she was insane.

“And how did she know where I live? This is so incredibly not okay. You really needed to go talk to her.”

“I don’t know, Tammy probably told her and no way was I going to go out there and let her do that.” It was always someone else’s fault.

“She better not fucking show up here again, I really will call the cops on her ass. I swear to fucking God, Dan. You need to deal with her,” at 20, it didn’t even occur to me that I was involved in a very trashy and complicated situation or that it was more than I could handle.

He told me that she wasn’t letting him see his son, he should have met her at 11:00 and somehow, for once, I was not the one being yelled at. Instead, his response was that we should go to Kaaterskill Creek in the Catskills, where there was a massive waterfall and it was supposedly a great place for swimming. It was summer  after all, it was hot, the sun was shining, and we both needed to relax after that wake up call.


Chapter 3

Chapter 3

The time I spent with him is almost as fractured as my memory of what he looks like. The moments we shared, the moments we didn’t – they drip through my mind penetrating every surface, pooling in the dark hidden places I dare not explore. The time before is a blurry glowing mass of life before innocence was lost. There are so many nights while I lie in bed that my thoughts slip, tripping over the quiet dark of night and fall until they drown in those pools. This is when I remember the most. The feeling of complete exhaustion as my grandmother tucked me into the freshly made bed in my childhood bedroom after a long day in June filled with so much screaming, crying and pain. The numb horror which filled my core as I washed a blood clot down the shower drain with my big toe weeks earlier, wondering if that could have been my child. The claustrophobic panic that gripped me when I came home to find an empty dresser after I’d received an apocalyptic voicemail. If every person we meet teaches us something, he taught me what it feels like to be scolded by a bailiff to get off the floor in the lobby outside a courtroom when. He taught me that I have the kind of defensive reflexes you can only know you have once you’ve truly been afraid. He taught me how easy it is to allow someone to completely strip you of every sense of identity until you wake up one morning a pale shell with no memory of life.

The part that no one talks about is the horror of trying to remember who you were. That living like that is the easy part. It slips into your life one tiny sacrifice at a time. One unspoken sacrifice, one microscopic chip of self-esteem, until eventually there is nothing left for him to take. The friends who once cared have been ignored and mistreated for so long that they no longer have your phone number. The family who was concerned has been lied to in so many ways it seems impossible to even begin to tell them the truth. The things that once occupied your time have receded into oblivion and his needs, his whims, his thoughts and his manipulative logic are all that remains until he too is gone.

The truth is surviving is easy. Survival is instinct. Recovery is something entirely different.