Carnies and popcorn mingled with the smell of funnel cakes and corn dogs. Wranglers and boots danced with high heels and skin tight pants. We wandered up and down the aisles of wonder. Past the haunted house and near the ring toss where he won me a small stuffed vulture. He was tall and broad shouldered. A Montana farm boy with money to blow on the preachers daughter.
We rode the Zipper and I laughed when he got queasy. Our conversation got more and more serious. We offered tendrils of our souls to each other. The fair closed. We sat at a picnic table, oblivious to the world.
Finally, he drove me home.
As we pulled into the driveway I knew I didn’t want to go in. I wasn’t ready to walk away. I knew I would give him anything he asked for. I knew he wouldn’t ask. I was prepared to offer the trite socially acceptable thanks and goodbye when he touched my face.
“Why didn’t you tell me how much you hurt?”
“I didn’t think you’d believe me.”
He kissed me. Again and again. Deeply. I cried because he was tender and I didn’t know what to do with that. Only two tears on that balmy August night. More than I had cried in years.
Arms entangled, bodies and faces close.
“I’ve waited a long time to do that.” He brushed tousled hair from my face with clumsy, calloused fingertips.
“Me too.” I choked and couldn’t quite hold his gaze.
He was a knight in shining armor and I was beautiful and irresistable. For a few moments.
Until I pushed boundaries and crossed lines. Demanding what he couldn’t and wouldn’t give. I stole and broke and destroyed.
Later when asked why I couldn’t explain. He was good and sincere. I was vicious with my new found power. He would have been a faithful friend, if not more, for the rest of my life. I made that impossible.
I learned how I could control and hurt by what I offered and what I withheld. I demanded of him when his body made demands his morals couldn’t condone. I found that shame hurts worse when it comes from love comprimised.
It has taken me a long time to understand being alone and powerful is merely an illusion. Then I didn’t understand I had created my own solitary place. I can see now how isolation sucking at the fringes of my sanity drove me to seek comfort in dark and desperate places.
I remember that night. One perfect moment in August. Now when the fair starts and the weather is hot. When I smell popcorn and funnel cakes, I remember a type of power to hurt and punish. Now I try to find the power in hope and love to heal.
Our lives can be lessons.
Or we can hide them away in dark closets. Collecting dust. Parasites feeding on the shame of our wretched behavior.
If we hide, we doom ourselves to repeat the same song over and over and over and over….
And we never grow up.