Picture perfect humid July afternoon, a crawfish boil is underway, lawn chairs and kegs scattered about. Children swimming in a green, fetid above ground pool, dog poop decorating the land, men in sleeveless t-shirts aiming bottle rockets at each other; just another grand day in a north-end white trash neighborhood. And there I am, summer dress and low wedge sandals, drinking a bottomless Lime-a-Rita. This is not my scene but I am here for ED, it’s his birthday and his friends’ 4th of July party. I get along with most everyone – although our hosts’ girlfriends’ don’t seem to care much for me – but I strike up conversations with anyone willing to talk to me. The evening trips along at a snail’s pace, how long can one listen to bitchy-backstabbing-gossip, dodge fireworks, and still keep on their smile? It becomes a game for me. Every negative thing someone says I happily chirp back some quip that no one ever seems to get. Even more unfortunate, it is one of those days when no matter how much I drink I can’t get to blissful inebriation.
But ED does. He is about to show me a side he has kept locked up for the 7 months we have known each other.
A guy I knew fatefully arrived at the party later in the evening. I said to ED, “Clay is the guy I was telling you about that used to play at Christmas parties, he’s awesome on the guitar.”
ED says, “I know Clay.” And his face goes dark. For the next couple of hours I observe ED drinking whiskey from a bottle and proceeding to be passive aggressive to Clay. Clay is antagonizing him as they play beer pong. Yes, I am at a party where they play beer pong and children are still splashing around in what can only be described as green sludge.
Never seeing this behavior from ED previously I ask his best friend what was going on. “He just gets like that, he’s a crazy asshole.”
At some point I am able to corral ED in the house to ask what is going on.
He screams at me, “You fucking disrespected me! I will not be disrespected!”
“How did I do that?”
“You NEVER tell a musician that another musician is good! Especially when that musician is your fucking boyfriend! You disrespected me in front of my friends!”
Hm. Okay. I try to calm him down, I apologize, and I ask if we can leave in hopes that this approach would work. There is no reaching him at that point. He hurls his sunglasses at the wall and shattered pieces rain down on me. I won’t yell at him, not when I know all of his friends are outside, I know they will be on his side no matter what. So I cry. Have I mentioned I hate crying in front of someone? I feel like I hand over the power to my emotions when I cry. I hate the vulnerability. If I cry I want to do so alone.
One of his friends walks into the living room.
“Everything all right?”
Oh yeah, fucking dandy. My boyfriend just Hulked out on me and tears are streaming down my face. But we’re cool, go on back to your party.
I walk out the door. ED follows. His drunk ass drives – maybe he’ll get a DUI! He continues to scream at me, no idea what about but I think he was screaming at his ex as if I had morphed into her. My anger is reaching DEFCON 2 quickly.
I undo my seat belt.
I wish I could recall what he said next. Whatever it was my mind slid right into DEFCON 1.
He is turned towards me so he can yell at me more efficiently; I haul back and punch him square in his face. I open the passenger door – yes we are still driving – and roll out.
Is it wrong that I really wish someone had recorded this magnificently idiotic brave stunt?
I bounce a bit but we aren’t going more than 30 so I sustain minimal damage. I get up from the road, straighten my dress, and walk into an unknown neighborhood. I am still sobbing, trying to catch my breath. Everyone in the whole world is partying in their backyard or at a park watching fireworks; the streets are dark, deserted. I am trying to gauge where I am and who do I know that lives close? ED parks the car somewhere down the hill and he is calling to me, saying please talk to me, blah blah. I walk by a house and hear,
“Are you okay?”
“No. Can I borrow your phone?”
ED is approaching. Tara please, please come back. The Good Samaritan is cloaked in shadows, standing on his porch. When ED realizes I am talking to someone he goes back to hostile mode.
“I think she wants to be left alone,” kind stranger says.
“Mind your fucking business,” ED says. They exchange words; ED is ready to fight.
“Fine, I will go, I will go with you.” I’m not about to watch Good Samaritan get pummeled because of me.
When we get to ED’s house I start packing a bag. He punches a dresser. Better the inanimate object than my face.
I should have listened to that voice in my head and left that night. But I stayed. He fell to his knees, begging and crying for my forgiveness.
What a fucking idiot I am.
Infinity was our symbol. I bought him a leather bracelet with an infinity symbol on it for his birthday – that birthday. He bought a Tiffany’s necklace with an infinity symbol charm for my birthday the following month. He kept the necklace after I left for good.
I saw a picture of him and his new wife. She is wearing that necklace.
What a disgusting human being he is.
I fear for that girl’s safety, maybe I should warn her but I’m sure I’m just the psycho cunt he used to know. She wouldn’t believe me, just like I never would have believed his ex-wife had she told me.
[If you’re keeping track, he was married but separated when I met him December of 2012, his wife took their one-year-old son and moved to Georgia – without telling him. <UM, HERE IS YOUR SIGN, TARA! DUMB ASS!!> They were officially divorced by August of 2013 after a custody battle. December of 2013 he asked me to marry him. Less than a year later in October 2014 he is married to a girl he knew less than 4 months.]
I’d say he has issues. But then, I’m the crazy one.
He called his outbursts “rages” like, no big thing. He is the epitome of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Perhaps wife #2 hasn’t witnessed the monstrous psycho he harbors. For her sake and the 3 kids’ sake I hope ED got help and they will never see that side of him.
I do hope they are in it for infinity. I have finally reached that glorious nirvana state of I’m Over It. I no longer HATE him (which is lovely because it opens me up to be able to love truly again). And I don’t care enough to reach out to her. I’m sure that makes me an asshole.
I still can’t promise I won’t yell, “Hey get your white-trash ass back to the north-end where you belong!” if I see him. < work in progress>
I don’t do what-ifs; it’s a slow circle down the drain. But…if I had left that first time? Would I be the person I am today?
I find my answer in someone else’s words:
“Some women are lost in the fire. Some women are built from it.”
“…something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart; a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.”
*This memory brought to you by an insane dream I had last night; I was in a basement and ED was throwing stuffed animals down, filling the space as I fought for air. I suffocated and died.