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Trouble In Paradise

Got into trouble last night. Much to my surprise. Victoria’s friend Jennifer and Jen’s son, Brandon, came over last night to watch the American Idol Gives Back thing. I like Jennifer and was looking forward to them coming over. But a few hours before they did I just … crashed.
I don’t know what got me. Well, I kinda do. Editing and re-coding the M.E. Caldwell pages has been very intense for me. Unexpectedly so. I mean, I’m only reformatting the pages. But that means going through the text, paragraph by paragraph. Reading it. Re-experiencing it. It drains me and leaves me feeling adrift. Like re-experiencing trauma. Or having flashbacks.
I don’t know how to explain it. It just leaves me feeling bewildered and lost. Yesterday when I finished a chapter, I pushed back from the desk. There was a tightness to my chest. I felt like I was on a raft that had broken its moorings and I was drifting toward a waterfall. I know that feeling all too well.
I learned a long time ago that when I feel like that it goes better for me if I just give in to it. Lay down. Close my eyes. Let the waves wash over me. In fifteen or twenty minutes, I’m fine. So that’s what I intended to do.
I went into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed to catch my breath. While I was sitting there I noticed and orange cat sitting on the picnic table in the backyard, cleaning itself. For just a moment I was sitting in Kings Mountain, watching Hannibal from the dining room window.
I think, really, that’s what got me. I started thinking about Hannibal. Gods. I miss Little Man. That stunned me, how strong the image was. How much it looked like Hannibal sitting there on the picnic table. I laid down, but I was already in trouble. I was thinking about Hannibal. My old life. The house. All the things that I keep neatly bundled and stored in some dark corner of my mind. I like to think that I’ve dealt with this stuff and moved on. But when I opened that door, it was a floodgate.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. I love living here in St. Petersburg with Victoria. It’s just hard for me to comprehend that everything that helped define me as a person is gone. My past has just been wiped away. I grew up in and around the cafe, and it’s gone. I grew up in that house, and it’s gone. Half of everything I ever owned … just gone. Loretta’s gone. Sis is gone. Loyd is gone. Mama’s living in a government subsidized apartment instead of the house she’d worked on all those years. And if I hadn’t had the good fortune to fall into Victoria’s loving arms, I don’t know what would have become of me. Well, actually, I do. Living in that truck like a wraith or someone else’s memory, I’d become all too aware that the veins on my wrists are close to the surface, and I always carried a razor sharp box knife in my pocket. My God, if I hadn’t had Victoria to talk to last year …
Well, I’m getting way off-topic. I was talking about getting into trouble. Or was planning to, anyway.
I laid down. I knew I was struggling. But I tried to close my eyes. Usually I drift off. After a short nap I wake up feeling better. Like my brain disconnects the troubling circuits and puts the genie back into the bottle. But this time, it didn’t work. I couldn’t drift off. And before I knew it, Jennifer and Brandon were here.
I got up and put myself back together. I changed clothes because the shorts I was wearing made me feel exposed. By the time I got in there they’d all settled in the den. I went in to say hello, and when I stepped into the room, everyone just looked at me and sort of waited. I panicked. I told Victoria later that I felt like I’d stepped onto the surface of the sun.
I retreated. First I kind of wandered the house. But that seemed stranger than lighting somewhere. So I docked in front of the laptop. I figured I could sit there for a few minutes and collect my thoughts. I intended to just cool out and let those strange feelings pass. Honestly, at that point I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I knew was that the thought of watching the manufactured celebrity circus of American Idol left me feeling physically ill.
How do you explain this to people? Well, I did say to Jennifer at one point, “I’m fine. I’m just crazy.” Yeah. That explains a lot.
Long story short, I never made it into the den to participate in the tribal gathering around the fire. I wound up talking to someone in World of Warcraft. Just talking. I think I just needed to talk to someone. And not about American Idol or the carefully staged photo-ops of millionaires telling us how terrible life is in Africa.
The end result was that I didn’t hang out with Jennifer and Brandon. I was rude to our guests. And Victoria was very upset about it. Rightfully so. I kept telling her “I’m alright” and “I’ll be fine”. So I guess she expected me to be. I guess maybe my years of marriage had made me come to expect that what I was feeling didn’t enter into it. You bit your lip and did what you had to do. I should have known better where Victoria is concerned. But I really did think that I could pull it together.
I owe Jennifer and Brandon an apology. I wrote a note to Jennifer, but I couldn’t send it to her because I’m not on her friends list on MySpace. I haven’t asked to be. Everyone on Victoria’s friends list knew her husbands, Barry. Some still talk to him, I think. So what’s the protocol for me here? Where do I poke up my head? No one knows. And none of those people have asked to be on my friends list. They don’t know, either.
I was rude to Jennifer. I feel terrible about that. Victoria gave me an out by telling Jennifer that I had a headache. Which was true, actually. What I should have done was stayed in bed. Put the pillow over my head and just stayed away. All I did by trying to go in there was make everyone uncomfortable. And now there’s going to be a permanent discomfort there for Jennifer. In short, I fucked up. And I feel terrible about it.
I guess the length I’ve written about this, and the detail I’ve gone into, shows how desperate I am to let myself off of the hook. But it’s not working. There may be an explanation, but there isn’t an excuse. All I can do is offer an apology.

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