It’s summer here in the US, and with summer time comes a lot of nostalgic memories. Especially after I go to visit my parents. Even though I’ve written them down a thousand times, discussed them with my therapist, and gone out of my way to avoid any and everything that MIGHT possibly bring them up, here they are. Not bad or traumatic memories, often times not even complete memories. Weird little snippets of things that make me smile, and also make me a little sad. I think it’s worse this year with my pregnancy. You know, all the reflecting and mental preparation that goes along with the physical preparation to new babies. Well on top of the PTSD “sticky” brain where everything with significant emotional impact stays for eternity anyway. At any rate, I’m going to share one that’s been bouncing around at the forefront of my mind here in recent weeks. I also happened to come across a song that pretty much perfectly fits with it… which probably didn’t help with the whole “sticky” thing.
It was a warm summer night and I was with my boyfriend. We’d been dating for quite a while, well if you can call what we did “dating”. I was committed to him, but he was frequently entertaining other women on the side during the majority of our relationship. I always knew, but there were a lot of other circumstances which contributed to my loyalty. That’s an entire saga in itself, but not important to this story… lol. I digress.
We were heading to his parents house, and before we left had found ourselves in an epic argument. I don’t even remember what the argument was about, but I do remember a screaming match in the car as he was driving on a back county road, opening the door while we were flying along, nearly jumping out before he stopped, completely forgetting to put my shoes back on in my haste to get away from him, him speeding away, and myself steadfast, determined, stubbornly marching barefoot along the road toward my apartment not particularly caring if he left me behind or not.
Less than ten minutes passed before he turned around and pulled up beside me urging me to get back into the car. “Kelli, come on. Please get back in the car. I can’t leave you out here. It’s almost dark, and you don’t even have shoes.”
“Then give me my goddamn shoes, and leave me the fuck alone!” I snapped, continuing my angry barefoot trek down the gravel shoulder refusing to even entertain getting back into his car.
“Kelli, look. I’m sorry, okay? We don’t have to talk about it anymore. You don’t even have to talk to me at all. Please just get back in the car and stop being stubborn. You’re going to hurt yourself, or someone else is going to come along and pick you up whether you want to go with them or not. It’s too far to walk back.” He pleaded.
He was right, and I knew he was right, but I really didn’t want to get back into the car. I slowed my angry pace to a delicate hobble as my adrenaline had worn off and the full effect of stomping on hot asphalt and gravel began to seer the bottom of my feet before coming to a complete stop and turning to face him.
“Come on. I won’t say another word, I promise.”
So I reluctantly made my way around to the passenger side of the car, returned to my seat, fastened my seat belt and refused to look at him resting my head against the window and closing my eyes. He kept to his word, and didn’t say anything as we turned around and continued on our way to his parents house.
We were flying down the road. He was always a reckless driver, but he seemed to be particularly distracted as we flew over a hill causing my stomach to drop and me to sit up and open my eyes. As I opened my eyes we were flying over another hill, crossed over the center line in the middle of the road, I took a quick glance in his direction where I found him with one hand on his knee the other on his phone.
“Hey… are you going to drive or o should I?” I yelped reaching over and taking the wheel steering us back into our rightful lane.
He immediately snapped back to attention and took the wheel, over correcting and nearly sending us careening into a mailbox. “What the hell?! Are you trying to get us killed?!” He yelled.
“No, are you?! 90mph down the middle of the road?!” I snapped back.
“I wasn’t going that fast, and we weren’t in the middle of the road.” He replied, with a snippish tone in his voice.
“I was asleep, and when I woke up the center line was right in front of me. You were in the middle of the road.” I snipped back. “And you’re currently going 70 and you’ve slowed down.”
He didn’t reply. We sat in silence for a few more moments until we almost flew through a stop sign. He slammed on the brakes, and we screeched to a stop in the middle of the intersection.
“Okay… so maybe I was going a little fast.” He said, as he quickly continued through the intersection.
“A little, yes.” I replied, annoyed.
There was more uncomfortable silence, as I sulked in my seat and kept my eyes between the road and passing scenery. The entire evening was ruined by whatever we had been arguing about before. His reckless driving didn’t even phase me, just more icing on the cake to my ever growing well of anger and annoyance.
“You know, one time I was going over those hills and I kept hearing this weird noise. It was like a wheeer clunk, wheer clunk sound. I thought I needed to take my car to the shop, so I called my dad and we drove all over the neighborhood but it wouldn’t make that noise again, until I was on my way home. Going over the hills again it started making this noise, and then I realized what it was. I was jumping the hills. My car was in the air.” He explained. “I think I was going like 100, or 120 something around there. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
“Seriously?” I asked, turning my attention from the scenery towards him as he was now driving attentively with both hands on the wheel.
“Seriously. On the way home I can show you.” He replied.
“No thank you. One brush with death was quite enough for the day.” I huffed as I turned my attention back toward the road.
“It wasn’t a brush with death. It’ll be fun. Actually, why wait until we’re heading home? We’ll go do it now.” He insisted as he quickly turned into a drive way and headed back towards the hills.
He drove the speed limit until he reached the first hill. We slowed to a stop in the middle of the road.
“Are you ready?” He asked, looking over to me.
“Apparently, we’re going to do this whether I’m ready or not, so go ahead.” I said, sitting up in the seat and checking my seatbelt.
“It’ll be fun. Here we go.” He said throwing the car into gear and flying towards the first hill.
I looked away from the road just long enough to notice that he was no longer wearing his seatbelt. I wasn’t sure when he had unbuckled it or why, but I didn’t have time to ask before we hit the bottom of one hill and raced towards the top of the next one and our potential launch. We didn’t quite get off the ground on the first attempt, but I did fly out of my seat thankful that I had tightened my seat belt. Instantly we were heading to the top of yet another hill and this time we flew. There was one more small hill before the road leveled out again, but it wasn’t nearly as exhilerating as the first two.
We slowed to a stop and he turned around in the middle of the road, again stopping before getting ready to take off.
“Okay… so that was kind of fun, but what happened to your seat belt?” I asked, a goofy adrenaline smile spread across my face.
He turned to me with the same goofy smile, before casually glancing at his seat belt.
“It hasn’t been latching right.” He answered.
“It latched fine for me when I drove yesterday, and you were wearing it when we left.” I said my smile slowly beginning to fade.
“Ready to go again?” He asked quickly changing the subject.
“Will you put your seat belt on?” I asked, determined not to be brushed off.
He looked at me, his face suddenly dark as he reached over his shoulder and clicked the belt into the latch. It didn’t stay latched, and he tried again. When it didn’t stay latched for a second time, I reached over the console and took it out of his hand, forcing it into the latch. I gave it a good sturdy tug making sure it was secure and then sat back up in my seat.
“That’s weird, it wasn’t doing that yesterday.” I said as I sat up in the seat.
“Yeah, I don’t know it just started. Ready?” He mumbled, glancing in the rearview mirror as head lights appeared behind us.
“Yep, lets go.” I said placing my hand on his and giving it a light squeeze.
He looked at me, smiled, and returned my tender squeeze before shifting the car into gear launching us toward the hills once again.
It’s the most random of memories to keep filtering around through my head, but every summer as soon as the weather turns it shows up. Flitting around in my head. It makes me smile because it reminds me of all the reckless, crazy, fun things we did together, but it makes me sad to look back on it and realize what had happened in those quiet moments between our fight and finding his seat belt unlatched, driving down the road at close to 100mph. He knew exactly what he was doing and on top of that, he almost killed me in the process. Which SHOULD make me angry, but it doesn’t.
And that’s the key to putting the memory cycle to rest. Finding out why it doesn’t make me angry that some guy I was dating tried to kill himself and/or me, and I don’t have any emotional reaction aside from excitement and nostalgia. In the moment it makes sense, basic dissociative survival, but now looking back at it from a completely safe environment and healthy state of mind it SHOULD be triggering the repressed fear and anger yet it’s not. So…. I don’t know what that means, and even my therapist is having a difficult time trying to figure it out, but it’s really the only thing we’re focusing on right now. Hopefully this is the last summer I have to deal with it.