Friday, February 15, 1985

So long ago

 The bad guys often win. Today was the day I drove up to see my girlfriend and found she had moved in with a man 20 years older than her who had been stalking her at her school and who she said had raped her. 

She had mental health issues before that - she had a pain in her abdomen that seemed to be psychosomatic and when we were together once it got so bad she had to go to the hospital. First she wanted to go to her friend's house but she was having trouble driving. I couldn't drive a manual transmission so some police who stopped behind us drove her to the house and carried her in, but eventually we ended up going to the hospital and nothing physically was wrong with her. In high school she told a teacher she liked she was taking drugs (she wasn't) and spent time in a treatment centre with serious addicts. She also told me once she had terminal cancer, which she didn't.  

She said she had been raped in an earlier relationship and that I believe.

She was funny and was kind to me when we were tother. I felt something cold dripping on me as I sat down at a dance she took me to. It was her dripping water on me from a glass! I was happy with her and I wished that when we walked the street of her town that I could cut our happiness up like a cake and share it with people.

We went on a field trip to the big city. She was in charge of a group of adult students but wanted to be with me. I just walked around and just north of the main intersection I felt a sudden push and thought I was being mugged. I turned around to see her grinning. She pulled me behind a wall in a parking lot and hugged me. Then she took her students with me to a shopping centre and I drew her attention to a restaurant on one of the higher levels and she spent some minutes trying to lose them. I waited by the restaurant and looked at her students following her like a line of ducklings following their mother. A security guard eyed me curiously. Finally she evaded them and we went by subway to a park at the end of the line. I remember a little girl of eight suddenly shrieking on the platform because her mother had gotten on the train and accidently left the girl behind as the train pulled away. A woman knelt beside the girl to reassure her.

We ended up hugging and kissing in the grass before going back. She sat beside me on the bus back to the university and asked to be told stories and held my hand under her coat. I told her the story of Gelert the dog who was unfairly killed by its owner, Prince Llewllyn, when the prince had thought that the dog had killed his son, when the dog had really defended the child against a wolf.

It was the 1980s and she wore a crinkly fabric skirt, or a long artisanal cotton dress and those 'jelly' plastic shoes . She wanted green ones and I found a shop with them, but she needed me to find the shop - her sense of direction was poor and she could get lost in her own town. She wore a small charm with concentric circles like a target, and an ankh ring which she knew was a symbol of immortality- I think she might have had a excessive fear of death. She wore a big pendant with a seagull that was also artisanal to the Twelfth Night (January 5) dance we went to on the last night we were together. She liked "Jonathan Livingston Seagull".

She'd asked me for help to get the guy to leave her alone. He'd follow her around the school and even stole my letters from her mailbox at the school, which was just an open pigeon hole cabinet that everyone could access (I didn't learn about the rape until later). She knew I would be there, confirmed the day and hour on the phone, but didn't tell me not to come. Later on, and I shouldn't have had anything to do with her after that but I did, she told me she'd had a fight with her mom and left the house and said she couldn't go anywhere else, although she knew I'd stayed in a motel that was only $15 a day, she had friends in town and she could have even slept at her school. He did well out of it, two kids and a good job  that being with her got him, even though he still beat her. 

She called me three years later when she was ready to leave him. She had one child with him she didn't want and he wanted another. She stood by the baby's crib and told me she didn't love or want this one, and didn't want another. She wanted to leave or for me to father the next one so she'd have less reason to have anything to do with him afterwards. I didn't want to father a child because it would be with a violent man. Then she changed her mind. She finally left him some years later, but still dated men like him, guys who moved in with her and took over her life  for a while. One did it before he even learned how to spell her last name right.

She was perfectly capable of leaving him by herself, and she could have told the people at the school she was at that he was stalking her.

I saw her one last time after that, by accident. She was a sad woman walking a Bichon Frisé. I didn't want to talk to her.

It's hurt me ever since.

I heard a story on CBC radio from a Cree man about a man who was on his way home when he was shot by a stranger with an arrow. Instead of going home he pursued the man, if only to find out why he shot him. Instead of getting treated for his wound at home, he died of his injury in the forest. I did the same thing. 

I kept thinking she'd call me to say sorry and we would be friends again. It was silly to think that was going to happen. If she felt guilty about it, it wouldn't have happened in the first place.

I just drove around pointlessly along the St. Lawrence for a long time after that, usually through the night, hoping to find my way back.

She warned me not to love her, even said 'shouldn't we stop this?' on our first date. (I thought we were just going for a walk together, but it did turn into a date, and that was her idea) but I thought she was just saying she was damaged from other relationships and she'd just need some patience.

She did well in her career, important jobs, and retired early but still was hospitalized over mental health issues.