The post I've been sitting on for a couple Junes.
Last night, I headed into my ever-changing, ever-growing hometown, down the same roads I drove to get to highschool. The car, like all my cars, has a little age on it; I've had this one back on the road since the end of August, and just made the last payment last month. That's part of what I like about the older cars, salvage auction, MasterCard, zero-interest deal, only a year's worth of payments. This is my second Mark VIII, bought gently fender-bendered from the auction in hopes of replacing the one that broke a timing chain the previous Christmas. My first one was sparkly, snowy white with tan leather; this one looked white on the webcam, but it's more of a vanilla color with a little paler shade of leather, different wheels, and the first sunroof I've ever had. I'm taking a while learning to like the vanilla color, but I love that sunroof more than I ever imagined! Life's good when you appreciate the little things…
Just like every time I leave the East side of my neighborhood in either Mark VIII, I eased up to the stop sign and hit the two-button sequence to turn off the traction control just in case I ended up with the chance to shoot for a gap and possibly hang it out sideways in the process. Like every time, I found my gap and even though I took off hard, I didn't take off hard enough to hang it out sideways -- yeah, hi, I'm a grownup. About the time I got moving and headed toward town, I reached for the radio and hit the #1 button.
The radio's memory buttons are a habit that has stayed with me as long as I've been driving. The same stations have been on essentially the same buttons all these years, save for a few changes when stations changed hands or when Tulsa got a classical station. #1 is a station that I don't listen to near as much as I used to, but it's still there. When I hit the button, I figured it wouldn't stay there long 'cause they don't play the old stuff like they used to; usually I just see what's on and if it's some new corporate radio crap, I flip on to the next station. My finger was already touching the surface of the #2 button, then I heard the DJ introducing a song, "The new one from Shinedown, it's called Bully."
Wait, what? Okay, I'll let it play.
"It’s 8 AM, this hell I’m in, Seems I’ve crossed a line again, For being nothing more than who I am."
Shit, here he is again, the FaceBook message, the screen-grab, the blog post I keep putting off, the flashbacks to the anger and the self-loathing; the guy I forgot when I wrote "Bullet List."
And there I was, crying alone in my car again.
I must've blocked a lot of it out, but the message he sent me on FaceBook brought way too much of it right back to the surface, where it's been popping back in on me every once in a while ever since a year ago last June.
He was a year older than me, and we were both in band. He sat near me quite a bit, and he always had something to say about anything and everything; usually involving my clothes or the size of my ass. I think what made him the worst of 'em all was that I really wanted to care, I didn't want to be angry all the time, I wanted to be warm and kind and friendly, not ugly and mean and full of hate all the time. He wasn't just mean like all the others; he'd pull me in and make me think he was going to be nice this time, let me think he'd changed and was all warm and sweet, then he'd say something nasty, even worse than the last time. That led to me not only hating him, but hating myself for letting him trick me into believing he might not be mean anymore. Over and over again, I'd sit through band practice hating myself for letting him trick me again, hating myself because apparently I'm not even good enough to be friends with someone who sits an elbow away from me every damn morning.
I had Jesus in my heart then and might've even offered to share in the warmer moments, but you didn't care at all, you were always mean, always nasty, always finishing with abuse every time. I've carried your words and your meanness around with me way too long, and I'm done now, because I know you never had to fight back tears before you made it to the front of the line at the drive-thru. You may say you're not the person you were back then, but I have too much experience with your words, I don't trust your words and I don't trust you. For the good of humanity, I hope your kids are as "wonderful" as you claim they are, I hope they're not relentlessly harassing anyone who'll end up crying alone in their car twenty years from now. I especially hope you're not just one more jerk hiding behind the supposed goodness of "church people," just lurking in the shadows waiting for one more chance to tear someone else down. Don't worry, The Lord is with me, His Peace is with me, but not because you sent Him to me. He has always been here for me; he kept me from ending up a school shooter, didn't he?
I haven't sent any sort of reply, none at all. I've written it in my head a thousand times, but no matter how eloquent it starts out, it always ends with "and the horse you rode in on."
Yeah, I think that's about it; I've let my thoughts out here because letting them out was what I needed; there's no point in wasting my time on someone who's not worth the hassle of a direct reply. That sums it up best, so I'll just go ahead and say it, "Fuck you, John, and the horse you rode in on."