In a couple of weeks it will have been exactly a year since Botboy returned from Afghanistan, took all his toys out of my closet, and left. It sounds funny when I say it that way, and I mean for it to sound funny – because if you can’t find some humor in a situation, no matter how badly it made you feel at the time, then you never do quite manage to heal from it.
I’d be lying if I said I was ready to face that anniversary on my own. I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in my house, alone, on that day with nothing to do but remember how I felt after I’d came home a year ago and found my closet empty, his note on my end table, and his energy bouncing off the walls of my apartment. Or how confused and completely bereft I felt for a couple of months after that. It’s quite something when you realize that someone who had made the first half of a year spectacular has the same power to make the first couple of months of the second half of a year absolutely horrible. I have no other way to describe it except to say that it truly felt as if someone had died. Because here was this man who had been a constant (virtual) companion for the first five months out of the year and then who, within the course of a few hours, was suddenly, and inexplicably, gone.
But, what was done was done. Time moved on, as it tends to do. And when it does, we have the choice to linger behind while the world moves on without us, or to pick ourselves up as best we can and move along with it.
And, regardless of how I did it, I chose to move along with it. I healed. It doesn’t mean I didn’t carry with me some very real scars from the earlier damage, but I became stronger for it. I’d spent the first half of 2013 getting ready for his arrival – moving things around, rearranging the house, revamping the bedroom and the bathroom. I’d made space in my closet for his things, given him the two lower drawers, and lived in constant anticipation of his arrival.
I’ve since spread back out into the rest of my house (I needed the room). Although he is away again (and not due to return home until later in the summer), I am not living in constant anticipation of his arrival – I can only hope that when he returns, I will see him. But otherwise, it is out of my control. I do not want to be alone on the anniversary day, but, then, likely I won’t be. Metalhead is a fairly constant fixture here during the week due to those anxiety attacks and I’m sure we’ll be sitting around, as always, watching television.
True to my word, though, in an attempt to make something potentially irksome into something more tolerable, I’ve been building May into something better. I’m attempting to give myself something to look forward to despite all of the mental garbage that I could potentially fall victim to.
There is that wedding of course. I’m not looking forward to the wedding. But I am looking forward to my Louisville trip. I’ll find myself zip lining through some underground caverns under the city of Louisville on the very day I get there. I’ll get to spend time with my friends. I may find myself at Kentucky Kingdom (the amusement park in Louisville) one of the days that weekend – this is the first year it’s been open since a ride cut a teenager’s feet off several years ago. I’ll be so busy there that there won’t be time to feel sorry for myself.
But, as they say on the TV infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!!”
I’ve had a surprise!!
I reconnected, recently, with a very old friend (like a friend I’ve had since I was fourteen) that I call 1.0. Or, as he described it, when he heard his own nickname for the first time, “DOS before Windows” (that’s about the measure of it).
1.0 has decided to make plans to visit Tampa, citing a need to get out of the city. He asked which weekend in May would be good for him to do that. My social calendar is not brimming of late, so I told him any (even that weekend for the wedding – since he could come to Kentucky instead if he was really that desperate).
A little back story on him. After August 1997 – as in after I got raped, escaped the rapist, and found my internet connection disconnected, I needed to set up a system that would allow me to keep in touch with the people I needed to keep in touch with. Very long story short, with the help of my friends in high school (who still have my undying gratitude), I managed to keep in touch with two: Buttface and 1.0. 1.0 and I talked through most of my high school years (he was in college) and finally met in person during my Freshman year of college. We dated for a few months (we never had sex) and then broke up. I saw him two other times after that – once when I made my own pilgrimage up to New York for the first time, and the second time after I had met and was living with Mr. Ex (who was very jealous of him). I haven’t seen 1.0 since. And twelve years have passed.
And so, once he found out that I was okay with it, he bought the tickets. Sent me the itinerary (I didn’t ask him to, but I appreciated it – after last year, the proof of all of this was awesome). It was a very welcome surprise – I was so excited I almost couldn’t get through the webinars that day. We’ll have fun. Because we’ve always had fun when we’ve been around each other. There are so many things I want to show him – my Alice bathroom, photos of my mother which most people never get to see, downtown Tampa and some of my favorite places, the beach at night (we’re going to smuggle some wine).
It’ll be good to catch up now that the divorce is well behind me and now that I am truly settled (or as settled as I care to be for the moment) for the first time, really, since we started talking in 1997. We’re taking a short road trip up to Orlando to visit one of his friends as well. And it should, really, be quite a good weekend. It won’t be exactly the anniversary of the Botboy fiasco last year… but it’s close enough so that it gives me something to look forward to during that week instead of letting the demons get the best of me.
And so, despite the fact that May is the first anniversary of that very horrible experience, intentionally or otherwise, it’s wrapping up to be very different this year. I’m busy taking care of my friend who needs me at the moment. I’m hosting another one of my friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time. And then I’ll wrap it up by going to Kentucky for this wedding – and seeing even more friends there.
The past is resonating… it always does… and it’s doing so especially right now in ways I won’t disclose, because I’m still sort of watching to see where all of this eventually goes without any interference from me. But just because it resonates doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.