Light this blog post on fire…

It wasn’t even midnight yet and still fairly early for me.  I was walking home from a friend’s house and decided to take a shortcut through a neighbor’s yard.  The side of their house butted up to my backyard’s chain link fence.  It must have been warm earlier in the day because there were clouds of fog hanging around the streetlights and the grass was slightly damp, not from a recent rainfall but probably from the humid air resting on the ground.  I was less than fifty steps from my front door when I heard him shuffling around in the shadows.

“Turn around, bitch.”

I complied. 

I’m beginning to believe that this moment changed me and the course of my life more drastically than I will ever know.  To see a gun pointed at me, just inches from my head, didn’t alarm me.  I don’t remember being terrified or fearful or even worried about what could happen to me in a matter of seconds.  In fact, I don’t even remember being aware of myself at that moment.  I only remember being there, in my own body and in my own backyard.

Click.

Then nothing.  He laughed.  He laughed at me.  He laughed at me and he walked away. 

“Bitch.”

And I stood there.  What just happened?  Am I dead?  Is this what it feels like to be dead? 

I guess, depending on how you live your life or how you planned to live your life, this is in fact what it feels like to be dead. 

A part of me died that night though no blood of mine was ever shed.  There was no bullet.  Only a click.  Nothing.  A prank of sorts that this guy could run off and tell his little thug friends all about.  I wonder if he told them how he scared me, a teenage girl, so badly that I froze at the sight of a gun to my head and how I still stood there, numb and confused, after he really didn’t shoot me.  I wonder if he told them that I eventually put my feet to work and walked into my house and climbed into my bed still fully clothed, jacket and shoes and all.  I wonder if he told them how I became afraid to go to the movies or drive my own car to the store or attend concerts at the Capital Center or even ride in the backseat of someone else’s car.  I bet he told them all of that and how I was expected to still put my life in the hands of others even after my trust in others, friends and strangers alike, had just been blown to smithereens. 

Yeah, that’s a good one, this prank.  I hope his friends were impressed. 

So, this incident is just a small bit of the baggage I’ve been lugging around for 15 years.  I thought about writing my fears and pieces of guilt and regrets on small tears of paper and lighting them on fire.  I’ve seen people do that on television and they always seem to feel some heaviness lift off of them.  They stand up straighter, with more pride in this accomplishment of theirs – that they’ve finally rid themselves of a demon who’s been lurking on their shoulders for some years. 

While I could have very well done that, I’m not a huge fan of fire.  In fact, I refuse to even fry anything on the stove because I am that clueless as to what to do in the event of a fire and I just flat-out snub anything that will encourage my house to go up in flames.  On top of that, my family would certainly question why I am outside lighting things on fire when they’ve just swept the driveway of debris and Why are you into this New Age hubbub and shouldn’t you just bottle up your feelings like the rest of us and move on?  I could do that, too, but so far it’s done nothing in the way of me being happy and it’s made my life pretty miserable and I’m ready to get it all out of me.  That’s the hubbub I’d rather be into. 

Let’s see if it works.

I am slowly realizing that I did not die that night, that I have been living my life afraid of everything and everyone.  I haven’t been giving myself enough credit for being tough enough to endure some of the things that life has handed to me, thrown at me, or catapulted onto me, like a huge, booming boulder.  Living a life of fear is not easy.  It’s exhausting, really, and quite boring at times.

I really want to change that.  Starting now. 

Time to light this blog post on fire…

“I’m not a coward, I’ve just never been tested.  I’d like to think that if I was I would pass. .. I might be a coward.  I’m afraid of what I might find out.”  – The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

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About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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