I’m not one of those people who faints at the sight of a needle or blood. In fact, I really enjoy giving blood, and not because I’m helping to save 3 lives according to the Red Cross, but because I like to watch the blood pump out of me and go into that bag. I feel strong just doing it, like, “Yes! Take my blood because it is so so good and iron-filled, and it’s O positive. Everybody, take some, have as much as you like from the universal donor!” But I do get very, very nervous when I initially see that needle which will end up puncturing my skin and stinging just a wee bit. And when I get nervous I do one of two things: clam up or crack jokes. So, as the nurse knocked on the door and stepped inside the doctor’s office with antibiotic-filled needle in hand, I couldn’t help but crack a joke and giggle a tad when she said, “Ok, unzip your pants and give me your right cheek.” I’m sure it would have been better if I could actually form vowels, but my throat is so swollen that full sentences are few and far between these days.
Chad was the quintessential bad boy that you just can’t get out of your system; even more so, you can’t escape the futile notion that he needs your help – to be saved. He was my first taste of life outside my small hometown, and he was more drama compacted into a slight form than I had ever encountered. Everything had to be huge and grand and there was always a deeper meaning. He connected with SLC Punk and heated discussions involving the war in Iraq and, unsurprisingly, was unaware of the look in my eyes whenever I recognized the irony in his lifestyle choices. He cooked scrambled eggs in the microwave without milk and went days without showering, lounging on the couch after smoking a bowl and devouring pizza rolls that had probably been sitting on the floor all night. His disheveled appearance and wandering hands were intoxicating, and I found myself drowning in his every notion.
Four months and we were done. He disappeared one day: no phone call, no note. Three days after that he called to say he had moved in with his best friend, dropped out of school, and that it wasn’t going to work between us. I didn’t say much and sat quietly in my closet looking out the small window down into the yard. And I cried, tears I would later regret and, illogically, began to wonder what exactly I did to make him leave.
He was a far cry from punk and rebel. His incoherent ramblings fueled by marijuana were nothing more than purple prose for the collected stoners who gulped down every syllable and tipped their hats and dropped their mouths in awe and hazy wonder. But I couldn’t deny my own fascination with this individual, this boy whose blue eyes would take all of me in, his sly grin would beg questions into his own mind, and I wondered endlessly whether or not the words that would come next would be just a sweet little lie. He fueled my jealousy and insecurity with just one glance or wandering connotation, and I found myself walking alone to my car: angry, sad, and tired of looking at that face.
He refused to sleep with me, a gesture that only ate away my confidence and justified the notion that I was to blame for everything that went wrong. In the weeks following his departure, I drove and smoked a lot. I’d buy a pack of mediums from a gas station other than the one I worked at and head northwest, the rest of the afternoon spent roaming Omaha and emptying the pack. Zeppelin was on repeat; Robert Plant’s voice the only comforting thing at that time. Chad hated my taste in music, made it clear that it was stereotypical and mundane. I didn’t say anything when he picked “Satellite” as our song, Dave Matthews’ romantic hit with the masses on repeat whenever he closed the bedroom door, and I slowly realized that this is probably what every 18-year-old girl feels like when a boy pays attention to them beyond the point of seeing them without clothes on. I still can’t listen to the song all the way through. If I had decided to pick the any song remotely particular to our relationship, I’m sure it would have been something of the Elvis variety. Good thing I kept quiet. I really like The King.
Alone in my car with my cigarettes and CD collection, I blasted my music as loud as my speakers would allow. Of course I had the angry girl/man hating variety: Alanis Morrissette, Meredith Brooks, Bikini Kill; but, the majority of rides were spent listening to my rock gods: Zeppelin, AC/DC, Queen, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, RHCP and “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake, a song I was particularly keen about for a few months. These men were bad boys in their professions: vivacious and fluorescent, gyrating their pelvises for every woman who would devour them. They didn’t leave me.
Chad rarely opened doors, never paid, and I willingly gave up my life and time for his every whim. I thought I was saving his life, martyring my own for the sake of his, and walking alone to my car those nights I was more angry and sad and tired with myself. I cried more because I recognized I was idiotic and weak and the irony was now grinning back at me, the same sly grin that he had every time he looked at me. His leaving had nothing to do with me, but I would have left me, and I did whenever I got in that car. I left my desperation and low self-esteem behind and dreamed of a quieter, stronger life, one that I could be proud of and showed no sign of demolition.
Things like that are easier said than done, and my bold mind wavered when that cigarette pack ran low and the sun sank lower in the sky and I found myself headed back east. But I couldn’t just disappear, couldn’t demand to be saved because I knew I was no princess. I just had to try to move on and realize that soon the tears would cease and the sadness would no longer linger and that I wouldn’t need these drives. And, much later, I would realize that I had never needed him. But until then I would just go home, turning up the volume as “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” started up, my own voice singing directly to him.
Real World audition earlier today at the Crescent Moon here in Omaha.
Coming Soon: humorous essay of sorts.