Some time ago, an old friend of mine passed on from this world into her next adventure on the wheel. The victim of a rather strange traffic accident, she stopped being here during the ambulance ride to the hospital. Had the man driving down the road not forgotten to switch off his turn signal and had my friend's sister not foolishly believed that a turn signal means someone is turning... well, it isn't important any longer. People die. It is the way of things. The circle continues again.
It was three months after the accident that her sister mailed a package to me. Postmarked in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, it had a long journey down to my present base of operations in Orlando, Florida. Inside the box I found four spiral-bound notebooks littered with writing. When I recognized the handwriting as that of my absent friend, I paused. It took two weeks before I could take them out of the box, touch them and look at them. Her sister called and tried to explain. She could think of no one else who might truly understand and benefit from the contents of these notebooks.
There was nothing in these spiral-bound notebooks that the girl who held the pen wanted other people to read. They were a diary of her troubles, her desires and her aspirations. Mostly the notebooks were filled with her sorrow. As she was not the type of person to walk around depressed, angry or sullen it came as something of a surprise. We often hide our pain, hoping we find a way to reason with it or hoping it just stops. So many battle with it every day and yet it is not the central theme of their lives. It is there. No one is on constant joy patrol on the borders of a super-fun life.
Once I began reading I knew I was in a place where I did not belong. Yet, I could not stop. The earliest notebook took me back to her high school experience. She wore glasses in those days and her problems with self-confidence were tied to them. I could relate, but I never even knew she wore contact lenses. So little I knew about a person I once called my friend. She liked the shy boys in high school and struggled with the fact that she, as well as the boys, were too afraid to say or do anything about it. "Why don't I say something? I'll say the wrong thing and they'll laugh but I know they won't. If I was a loudmouthed bitch I'd have everything." The high school picture was unlike the person I knew. The girl I knew had quiet confidence and seemed comfortable sitting in the background. I was foolish. She wasn't satisfied with that. She wanted a louder voice and a more commanding presence. It was just that she had accepted her role. She didn't like it.
There were some bad attempts at poetry, just playing with words she never intended to be read by anyone, including herself. These diaries were her way to cough out the bad feelings and try to make sense of them. Soon after high school she met a boy. He went to the University of New Hampshire with her and in the beginning seemed "so perfect." She wrote rosy reports about him and mused about them staying together forever and getting married after they both finished college and got great jobs. She even mused about having kids and hoping they had "his eyes." Then they slept together for the first time and soon after everything changed. She accused herself of "liking sex too much" and proposed that she might be addicted. She muttered about ways to make the feelings go away in bizarre and crude fashion. Their relationship was falling apart and becoming about nothing but sex. Then he left her for another girl and she sank into a deep depression. She started going to a lot of college parties and tried to find someone she could trust to handle her new urges. She drank too much, made mistakes and ended up dropping out of college. It was a time of much sorrow and much self-loathing.
I was trespassing on sacred ground, and wondered about all my notebooks and files scattered around my apartment. I wondered what might become of them and where they would end up should I suddenly pass onwards. I continued to read, flipping through her ups and downs and then settling down upon the final volume. It opened with the day after the night we first met. It was a large gathering of people at a club. Most were meeting for the first time after only knowing each other through a certain internet chat group. Sort of like an E2 gathering minus the E2. For whatever stupid reason, I made myself into a central theme of the event. I had manipulated many into thinking they were coming to meet me. My ego demanded these things in those days. She called herself the wallflower in her spiral-bound diary and wrote at length about how she was surprised by me. So many were feeding my huge ego and surrounding me with attention. When I broke off and came over to her she didn't know what to say. I bought her a drink. We talked for some time until I was torn away. She wrote for six pages just about me and how she wished she was good enough to be with someone like me. I wish I could have taken a hammer to her head. Figuratively. To think that I could be too good for anyone makes me sick to my stomach. I am as much nothing as anyone else is nothing and we are all something in between.
She wrote about the day, three months later, that I took her out to dinner and then back to my house. She was amused by my odd nature, especially with the fact that I in those days I always asked women to wear either a skirt or shorts when we got together. I wasn't afraid to say anything in those days because everything was plentiful. "Wear a skirt or at least shorts, so in case the opportunity arises I can play with your legs." No one ever said I was sane, but I usually ask for what I want. She did, and the opportunity arose, and I took the opportunity. There was much passion and desire. There was more on her part than on mine, as she later noted in her spiral-bound diary. When I tried to lead her off to my bedroom she said the time was not right. In the notebook I read a different story. She was afraid if she followed me into my bed she would become another of my statistics, another notch in the belt of a man who had not yet gotten his fill of random women. She was afraid she would fall in love with me and have her heart ripped out by my wandering ways. Ten pages later she told herself she was in love with me and that it didn't matter and maybe she should have just gone. Twenty pages later she wrote with disgust about how she hated the fact that I treated her like a kid sister and she couldn't tell me how she really felt. Three pages later she blamed it all on a belief that "all of his other women look better in a skirt than I do." She was wrong about that, but then again, we are all so often wrong in our private musings. How much do we really lose in life because we are just so wrong about it.
I destroyed the sad little spiral-bound diaries this morning. I had them for too long and they did not belong to me. I had no right. Her sister was wrong to send them to me. She might have never wanted me to read them, but then again, she might be smiling at me from a distant place and thinking "now you know, you dumb prick." She wasn't that different from the people she walked past every day. I think she knew that. It was her strength. Rest in peace.
Everything here is true except for how she died. I stole the method of death from someone else's story. She was killed by a former boyfriend who was stalking her.
Oddly enough, I am presently paid to read spiral-bound notebook diaries for a living
June 6, 2006