Monday, December 2, 2013
We think we are adult; all grown up. I have a birth certificate that says I'm 65 years old, which not only makes me an adult but a senior citizen. Yet, often a song, an aroma, a sound, a phrase can instantly take you back in time to another point in your life. Usually, that's a good thing. Usually that's a pleasant memory. Usually it brings to mind a loved one. But there's hell to pay when it opens the door to a long closed vault in your mind you swore you had locked forever.
I belong to a site on Facebook called "U Know Ur from Hackettstown If...". The site irritates me because of the uses of the "U" for You and "Ur" for You're, but I try, unsuccessfully, to ignore it every time I go there. I am also not from Hackettstown, though I did live there from June 1961 until January 1969 and those were some of my more formative years. A lot of things happened in my life while I lived there, and those experiences and those people are imprinted upon me forever. I have one brother and his wife who still live there but I don't have a lot of friends in Hackettstown. There are a lot of people there about whom I am either ambivalent or who I could feel kindly toward given the right set of circumstances. There are others I can just plain do without, thank you very much. The town has changed significantly since I left. When we moved there in 1961, there were probably less than 4,000 residents. My high school graduating class was something like 157 students. Now, the population hovers around 10,000. It's still not a booming metropolis, but being only an hour away from New York City it has many of the upper northeast metropolitan problems.
Anyway, I have been a member of the Facebook site for several years and have visited it frequently and commented on the postings whenever something struck me. I have never posted anything on the site, because I have never felt as if I "belonged", nor did I wish to. The site and I have handled our precarious relationship quite well with neither of us stepping on the other's toes until last Friday. I don't know why I didn't see it coming. I don't usually go through life with blinders on. But this one hit me completely unaware. I went to the Hackettstown site and there for the first time was a name I had hoped to never see again in my life. I won't put it in this blog, because if I do, then it will again be in writing and I'll have to look at again. But there it was in black and white right before my eyes.
I was instantly 13 years old again. It was midnight and it was hot. I could smell sweat and stale beer. Two guys were holding me down on the front seat of a car while one took my shorts off and yelled at me to hold still. He was laughing and telling me how much I was going to like this. He told me to go ahead and scream because no one could hear me. It hurt. It hurt so bad. I tried not to cry, but I couldn't help it. Then finally he was done and I thought, thank God, we can go and I'm still alive. But no, they just change places. I was too sick, too tired, I couldn't even fight anymore. I just cried, and cried.
When I finally came out of the fog and realized I was sitting in my own living room and I was not 13 anymore, I was so shaken I couldn't believe it. I was sure I had closed that away in my mind to NEVER be dealt with again and yet just seeing the name of one of those men had brought it all back in an instant. I should have seen it coming. I knew they both lived in Hackettstown. I guess I thought they were too stupid to use a computer. I guess I hoped they were dead. I guess I thought they would never find that particular site. I have no clue what I thought or hoped, but whatever it was it was wrong. I stewed about it all weekend and got no sleep reliving all the terrors of that time in my life. This morning I got up and did the most intelligent and childish thing I could do, but it solved the problem. I blocked him. I can't see him -- he can't see me. Now all I have to do is cram all that garbage in my mind back into that vault, slam the door and lose the key again.