It was the summer of 1996 and I was drunk. Again. In fact, it’s safe to say I spent the vast majority of that summer drunk. It was the summer of my lost innocence. The summer I learned that I was never going to be good enough for the people I’d worked so hard to please. The summer I learned that the friends I had, never really liked me in the first place. The summer of my “step-mother” not being comfortable with Jim’s frequent phone calls to the house. The summer I became too sick to hide it any longer.
We used to have these house parties. A rich friend, a large house with a pool, a pool table, parents who traveled often… Camp Horowitz – we called it. $5 would buy you a red cup and all the beer your little stomach could handle. Get there early and there were smoothies and swimming at the pool. Being the girlfriend of the host’s best friend I practically lived there all summer.
One night I remember being at a party there… Lots of people. And a guy I knew vaguely. Someone we only called by their last name. I can’t even remember it now – how sad. Anyway, I remember him coming up to me… Something about how there were so many people there and could I believe the line for the bathroom in the pool house?
I answered along the lines of yeah, huge party, I didn’t even know half the people there and didn’t he know where the bathrooms were in the main house? He appeared confused and I volunteered to show him and off we went. Keeping in mind that I was drunk and had probably been that way for hours – I realize now I had just fallen for the oldest trick in the book.
We got in to the house and I pointed him towards a bathroom. He asked me to wait. I do. I vaguely remember thinking I didn’t want to walk back to the party in the dark by myself because THAT would be unsafe. Ha. I sit down on the couch to wait. He comes out and sits down beside me. Puts his arm around me. Leans in to me and starts kissing my neck, whispering in my ear, rubbing my leg…
“Your boyfriend and I are good friends you know. We share lots of things. He wouldn’t mind”
And I don’t know how or why or in what instant but something in my drunken brain snapped and I managed to push him off me and get out of the house and back out to the party. I even accepted his half-hearted attempts to walk with me back. No hard feelings. Right. He didn’t realize. Sure.
The next morning I mentioned the incident to my boyfriend. I’m not sure what I was expecting… I was 18. I was madly in love. I was rebellious. I was naïve. He blamed me. It was my fault. I led him on. I tempted him. I wanted that to happen. Deep down I must have been attracted. It was my fault. I, I, I, I. Me. It was my fault.
And the next weekend when my boyfriend slipped away with the girl he’d admitted to having a crush on before we began dating? I looked the other way, forced a smile and took my turn for a keg stand. Because I deserved it. It was my fault.
I ran in to that girl tonight. I guess that’s where this story came from. I was craving sushi… (all your fault Laurie!) TheBoy and I went downtown to run some errands and decided to grab some dinner. And in walks a blast from the past. A girl I literally haven’t thought of in 10 years. Funny how things trigger memories.
And I realized… I’ve been blaming myself for that drunken evening for 10 years! I accepted my boyfriend’s cheating that time and every time after as penance of sorts because I thought I deserved it. But you know what? Tonight, as I sat across the table for the man I’ve spent nearly 5 years with I realized… I was wrong. I deserved better. I deserved this – a partnership, a friendship, respect. Love is so much more than just fiery feelings and lust. As TheBoy and I sat discussing our future and its merits and faults, for what seems like the umpteenth time, I realized THIS is what I deserve.
Seriousness. Blamelessness. Honesty. Love.