The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Life Happening, Pt. 1

I apologize for my long absence. I have been buried under a pile of crap for a few weeks, both literally and figuratively. My room is still a hell-hole, but I couldn't wait any longer to post. In addition to the physical crap hanging all over my room, I'm been dealing with a lot of relational/mental/emotional crap as well, which means I've got a really, really, *REALLY* freaking long post. So, for your convenience, I'm going to divide them into sections and you can pick and choose. Happy reading. Oh, and thank you Ferguson for becoming my loyal subject. If I had an e-sword I would knight you into my service, but alas. The best I can do is allow you to sign as "Sir Ferguson" on future comments.

Drew's Wedding

The wedding was lovely, what can I say. It was on the 5th, in one of the most beautiful old churches in town-- sort of gothic, all grey stone outside, hardwood floors inside. The reception hall was absolutely breathtaking. It was built onto the old church fairly recently, and is a mix of modern and traditional architecture... also, kind of train-station-y. The ceilings and overpassing walkways kind of looked like a train station ::shrug:: but beautiful. We danced for about three hours. I danced with Ben, and a little with Josiah (semi-ex), but he was still being weird, in that "You're kind of my ex and I have a girlfriend now so I can't get any closer than three feet from you and I have to avert my eyes if you look pretty" kind of way. Psha. So anyway, now one of my cousins is married.

The best part of the whole shebang was when Amy (the bride) walked in and everyone stood up, except that all the floors were hardwood, so when we stood up there was this lovely sound of several hundred pairs of dress shoes hitting old wood floors, kind of like a "whoosh knock knock whoosh knock" and it was the sound of reverence. I'd never heard reverence before, but I'm sure that's what it sounds like. Therefore, I may sacrifice getting married in my own church for getting married in a place with hardwood floors, like Drury Stone Chapel. Hmmm....

“STUFF” Stuff

During and after the wedding I got to hang with the old “STUFF” crew, a group of people who I met about four years ago through my cousin Drew. They are all (or were) homeschooled, which meant they were my first escape from the hellish hierarchy of public middle school, and therefore really my first friends as a teenager or non-kid. They’re all a very intelligent, Christian, offbeat, artistic, counter-culture sort of group… at least most of the time. This group is where I met people like Hannah, Michael, Sam, Eryn, Josiah, and others I may mention from time to time.

But anyhoo.

I haven’t been seeing them regularly for the past year and a half or so… the old group had kind of drifted apart. I think a lot of it was just that we all grew up, some of us in different directions, and we got preoccupied with other parts of our life. At the wedding, though, it was almost a sort of reunion. Drew and Amy were the first two members of the group to get married, and they were getting married to each other. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it made me feel a little… something. Odd, perhaps. Removed, maybe. Displaced, even, at times. On a subconscious level I think it made me feel as though we should all suddenly be adults now. I’d just graduated high school, my grandfather had passed away, my cousin and good friend were getting married, and the many of my other friends were in the wedding party. To top it all off, my very dear friend Ben (Michael’s brother) was leaving right after the reception to go back to Illinois, where he has a full time job for the summer. We won’t see him again until October. Ben and Michael used to come home for the summer, sustaining the adolescent dreamworld for me, but this year they’re both gone, and it feels like they’re gone for real this time. It was as though I’d crossed over a line between “teendom” and adulthood, even though my “teendom” at times had been a little unorthodox. The day of the wedding was the day Ronald Reagan died, and Eryn even said, “It’s the end of an era.”

All of these things seem to be indicators that I’m shifting not just from one chapter of my life to the other, but that I’m closing the cover on a whole book labeled “Childhood”. The last page was where my truly beloved grandfather took his final bow, old friends hugged one another and said goodbye, and I turned my eyes forward to a new day, trying to find hope once again in the light shining on my face, even before the tears on my cheeks had dried and evaporated away. Now, during this pregnant summer, it feels like my life is holding its breath as I graze the cover of the book of “Adulthood” with my hands and hesitantly slip a single trembling finger between the cover and first page, waiting for something to tell me when I should flip it open.

Weekend @ Jessica’s

On the Sunday after the wedding (the 6th) I went to hear Eryn’s sermon at Christ Community Church, then to my little “niece” Cora’s birthday party, then to my friend Jessica’s fiancée’s house in Branson, about 40 miles away. She’s getting married in August, and I am a bridesmaid, so we were having a sort of Bridesmaid’s Weekend. Jessica had been very cryptic and vague with us about what exactly we’d be doing; she just told us it was a surprise and we needed to wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. If I had really given it much though, I would have been a little worried, because Jessica’s the type of person who comes up with all sorts of crazy things to do… you know, the kind of thing that could get the cops called on you, but that you could flirt and/or cry your way out of… at least when you’re with *her*. Did I mention that she’s a model? One of her other bridesmaids is a model too, and her younger sister (the maid of honor) might as well be. Needless to say, they’re all very girly—think Jessica Simpson, Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) style. Quite a world away from the STUFF group.

It turned out we were just going to Celebration City (a sort of mini theme/amusement park), so we weren’t going to get the cops called on us after all, although that probably would have made this blog post more interesting (don’t worry, it *does* get better, especially for all the fellas out there). We had tons of fun at C.City, in fact, it was an absolute blast. I always end up losing all inhibition when I’m with Jess and her friends, because they certainly don’t seem to have any. Mostly I’m trying to overcompensate for the Backlash Effect** (see footnote). We started a conga line at the “dance party” they hold at the end of the every night there (G-rated dance party, this is a theme park) and were so overheated and soaked with sweat by the time we were done at the park that we decided to jump in the pool as soon as we got back to the apartment. However, three of us didn’t have swimsuits, so… we went skinny dipping! Just kidding. The post doesn’t get *that* good. What we really did was put on a mish mash of whatever the five of us had in our bags… spandexy workout shorts, sports bras, old tee shirts, etc. I ended up in some rather short and tight pink workout shorts and an even more spandexy fuchsia tank top. Let me tell you, I looked hot (not). We were sweating buckets, though, so we didn’t really care, we just snuck down to the pool and jumped in. See, the condo complex that Jess’s fiancée is in *has* a pool, but for some reason we never use that one… we always sneak down to use the pool of the apartment complex next door, which of course we’re technically not allowed to use. I think it’s mostly so we can sneak and giggle and “shhh” each other as much as possible.

After a few rounds of pool volleyball and CAT (a shorter version of HORSE) we snuck back to the grounds of the condo-plex and laid out on the grass next to the pool, in the dark, waiting for the guys (fiancée and roommate) to come back. We would sit up on our towels and talk for a while, then when headlights would come into the parking lot, someone would whisper-scream “DOWN!” and we’d all bolt down to the towels and lie flat like escaped convicts. We were well aware that we looked like morons, and kept thinking of stupid things to say if someone came up and asked what we were doing. Some of the winners were, “We’re saving spots for tomorrow” or “We’re moonbathing!”.

We then proceeded to talk about how hot we all were and what idiots the guys were for going out when they knew we’d be back at the condo around this time. When I expressed my doubts about my own personal hotness in my current ensemble, next to two models in designer bikinis, I was showered with compliments, the general consensus being that I had very enviable breasts. So there, self-deprecation!

Later, after the guys had returned, I’d dried off, some of us had changed, and all of us had done our fair share of flirting with Lee (Jess’s fiancée’s roommate), we were escorted out to our cars by said Lee. As we were saying our goodbyes, up the walk suddenly came a brace of extremely inebriated young Scotchmen. Make that a brace of extremely inebriated *homosexual* Scotchmen, but who can tell when they’re Scottish *and* gay? I’m just an Ozarkian. That’s a little too much culture for me to decipher very quickly at midnight, in the dark, when I’m still rather damp and I’m standing on asphalt in my bare feet and they’re not only Scottish and gay but very very *drunk*. What I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t have known if Lee hadn’t have told us. Anyway, while we’re at it, I’ll add another adjective. They were Scottish, gay, drunk, and VULGAR. They saunter up to us (a group of girls whom they barely, if at all, know) and their salutation is (noting the lone Lee surrounded by five girls, some still scantily clad) “Have you all been having a gang bang then?” The speaker proceeded to speculate on what a lucky guy Lee was, and how very ‘large’ he must be, then moved on to comment on our various features. To poor Tracy he directed, “Ah, ye’ve got long sexy legs and ye know it, don’t ye? Ye like to show ‘em off.” Lee suggested to the pair that they might be rather drunk. The Scotchmen continued to speculate on how much sex we were all having with each other every night and Lee offhandedly agreed, “Yeah, yeah. They’re all in my bed. Sure, whatever,” in an attempt to get rid of them, but they didn’t easily tire of the subject. Finally, Lee tired of them and began cussing at them and mocking their sexual orientation. After a bit of this, they bid us goodnight and went up to their condo. Lee remarked to us that they aren’t bad when they’re not drunk, but they’re usually drunk. They said to us, “We’re from Scotland. To us, the weekend starts on Thursday night an’ goes on to Tuesday mornin’.”

The five of us girls had remained silent throughout the exchange, even though most of us are usually rather quick with the comebacks. I think we were all rather shocked and aghast, and anyway, we were so drunk off of each other’s estrogen that we were in a feminine stupor, and the instinct of ‘let the man defend us’ inexplicably took over. Oh well. It was hard to be offended when they talking in that accent anyway, and besides, they were gay, so what the hey? Kind of makes the words feel rather empty…

**Backlash Effect (n.)—My tendency to become the opposite of whatever group of people I’m immersed in. Ex.: if I’m around intellectuals, like the STUFF group, I turn into a ditzy bouncy desperate annoying floozy. If I’m around super-girly cheerleader types, like Jess & Co., I turn into an introverted, shy, journal-scribbling, anti-social tomboy. I’d like to think the real me is somewhere beyond both; an intellectual free-spirit who neither desperately needs nor entirely shuns social interaction. Pffff. Oh well.

Last Ditch Attempt of the Id

I’ve recently found myself attracted to two of my male co-workers. Nothing serious, of course, just lust. Still, I usually am not even remotely attracted to someone unless I’m attracted to their personality first—and this is certainly not the case with these guys. They’re alright, but let’s just say they’re not my type. One of them is part of the subculture that my friend Courtney is a part of—dealers, junkies, drunks, fugitives, etc., you know the type. They all wear black, have a few piercings, blast Tool while drinking or Phish while eating shrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I hate people like that. Courtney’s a good friend of mine. He’s a nice guy, and we have some of the same tastes in music, but I’ve learned my lesson about the fixer-uppers. He almost went to jail for punching a cop and running from the police, he does drugs, never went to college. No more bad boys for me. He used to cuss like a sailor but we’re working on that. I give him a Word of the Day every time we work together in an effort to clean up his language. It’s starting to work. At least he watches his mouth around me.

The other guy is similar, but a lot more spacey. Instead of hard core, he’s Rastafarian. Yup, full-blown stoner; he even had dreads until very recently. Most of the time he calls me “dude” and talks in this perpetually stoned, slow, raspy, California-coast surfer-talk. He is epitome of The Stoner. You look up the word “stoner” in the dictionary, there he is; a completely laid-back, spacey pothead. Also a nice guy, but no where near meeting dating qualifications.

I’ve decided that these bizarre attractions can be attributed to the Last Ditch Attempt of my Id. I’m nearly nineteen and I’ve yet to really be close to any men, let alone catch any action. I think the primitive part of my brain is flipping out over the fact that I should have started having children three years ago, seeing as I’m supposed to die before I’m 35. It’s like my Id is screaming at me, “Either your womb is going to dry up like slug in a salt factory, or you’re going to get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger before it gets the chance!” To which I generally respond, “Shut the f*#% up you hysterical lunatic BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO SCREAM ABOUT!” I intend to continue threatening to drill holes in my head and see where that gets me. You’d think that this part of my brain would put all its extra energy into doing something useful, like teaching me how to rock climb or weave baskets out of grass, but apparently not. I’m also rather insulted that my primordial brain won’t leave the man-catching to me, much like my mother and grandma. Apparently no one thinks I’m capable of handling such an important task as landing a husband. Pfff. I’ll show them.

P.S.—Is it just me or did that section just sound eerily like a Mimi Smartypants entry?

Walking Tall

And now for the grand finale.

If you haven’t yet deciphered my last post, I’ll give you the lowdown. Former Friend (whom devoted readers and RL friends will recognize) had slowly been edging his way up on the likeability meter (through no fault of his own) and I was once again feeling that I might perhaps be willing to meet with him and work out our differences; maybe to start a new, different, more casual relationship, or maybe just to get some closure. Either way, all of that fell apart when I learned that one of my friends was considering dating him. This was made worse by the fact that it was the very friend whom I had recently vented to about him and his attempt to go to Prom with Linzy, another, mutual friend of ours. This was also the same girl who’s ex-boyfriend I vowed never to pursue, out of respect for her. Therefore, she knows *exactly* how strongly I feel on this issue, and her continued persistence on this course of action shows that she doesn’t care about me, my feelings, or our friendship in the least, and furthermore has lost all sense of judgment (since she’s heard from *all* of us what bad news he can be).

So. Last Friday (the 11th), Laura, Hannah and I went to the bookstore in Laura’s car (I could point out that this was not my chose course of action, I’d wanted to stay in and watch a movie). When we got their, I immediately saw his car and started freaking out. I declared that I didn’t want to go in, I didn’t want to see him, and so on. Nonetheless, the others continued on into the store, so I had little choice but to follow them. I continued freaking out inside the store, worrying that if I walked around I’d accidentally run into him, or he’d pop out from behind a shelf, or I’d turn around and he’d be there, or any other number of nightmarish scenarios. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that the two of them could be there *together*.

Out of apparent annoyance, Laura said she’d go look for him so we’d know where he was, and I could avoid him. Hannah and I were waiting in the sci-fi section (not the best place to hide from him) when we spied Linzy sitting on a stool reading Manga. She’d come on her own and had had no idea he was there (since the whole Prom fiasco, Linzy and Former Friend have had a falling out and are no longer on good terms, so I didn’t doubt her). Laura returned and said she couldn’t find him. I continued to freak out and everyone else continued to attempt to placate me, which only made me angrier. They were all treating me like I was five years old and about to throw a temper tantrum in public. Granted, I *was* a bomb ready to explode, but I had every right to be. None of them understand what the whole experience with him was really like for me, or how much he still effects me to this day; especially when he’s physically near, or has recently done something especially slimy. In this case it was both, and I was at the end of my rope. He still has such immense power over me it drives me crazy, but that’s what happens when someone is so awful that you can’t even meet them for coffee to get closure.

Linzy then went to look for him. At first I stayed with Hannah and Laura again, but their constant mockery of my emotions and attempts to downplay the situation only infuriated me further. I finally reached my boiling point and took off after Linzy. She spotted them and told me (like a child) to stand where I was and let her go talk to them. The Traitor was with him. They were out together. I was about to lose my mind. Linzy came back and told me to ignore them, but I was through with being talked down to and having one of the most traumatizing elements of my life being degraded into a middle school he-said she-said drama fest. They were acting like in the old days, where emotions became faculties of games and puzzles, our daily entertainments. I’d had enough. I marched right up to the treacherous pair, prepared to say something really righteous, but he wouldn’t even meet my eyes. She half-smiled and waved like nothing was wrong. I found myself speechless. I death-glared at both of them before turning on my heel and storming off. I passed my friends on my way to the exit and informed them that, “I hate them both and I’m walking home!”

I felt sick to my stomach. I was almost certain I was going to throw up at any moment. I thought I might cry, over my grandpa, over him, over my ‘friends’, but I found, for the first time ever, that I had too much anger, and there wasn’t any room for sadness. I didn’t feel wretched, I felt righteous. When I got outside, I paused and considered my options. Laura was my ride; I had no way home. I’d have to either sit out there for an hour or two on the concrete, in my skirt, looking pathetic and probably seeing the Traitors as they left, or I could go back inside and endure the unsympathetic exasperated flippancy of my friends and be miserable, raging all the while inside without being able to say a word. I chose the only feasible option before me, and took off across the parking lot. I could barely feel my legs moving. I only knew that my heart felt like it was going to explode inside me, my stomach was churning so fast I almost got dizzy, and my throat was bursting with tears and screams that I couldn’t release. The walking served as an outlet for the explosive feeling in my chest and the tears behind my eyes. I just had to keep moving. I honestly felt that if I had to stop I would either explode or implode. I knew it was stupid to walk around town at night alone, especially on a Friday around Battlefield where all the cruisers were out, but I had no choice. After ten or fifteen minutes, my friends called looking for me, but they were the last people I wanted to see. Their condescension had driven me mad, and there was no way they could understand. I screamed at them over the phone and told them they wouldn’t find me, which was true. I’d decided to walk to my grandma’s house instead, which was much closer, and slightly north. They’d look for me going south.

My friends then resorted to calling my mother, then only right move they’d made all night. They told her what had happened and she called me, and calmly asked where I was. I yelled for a bit and then tersely told her she could pick me up at grandma’s. I knew it was stupid to wake grandma in the middle of the night, especially when her nerves were already so raw, and I knew my mom didn’t deserve to worry about me. My mom picked me up outside my grandma’s house, so I didn’t even have to wake her. She wasn’t angry at all, but completely sympathetic. She’d done the same thing before. I was still mad, but had walked off most of the explosiveness, so now I just festered in the passenger seat. We had an hour until she was supposed to pick up my little brother, so we went through a frozen custard drive through and then went to the skate park and sat in the parking lot until 11:30. By the time I got home I was pretty empty, though I’ve still been mad about it for the past week.

I’ve never experienced an anger like that, that I just couldn’t contain, that I had to get away from. I didn’t have any sort of grip on it; the only way I could get any handle on myself was to just keep walking. I hate how much power he still has over me, eight months after we parted ways. I knew that it would take me a long time to heal after a blow like that, but I never imagined it would take this long, or still be so intense after such a long time. When I look at him, it still seems like yesterday that he told me he was tired of my devotion to him, and only the weekend before that he ran up two flights of stairs to get me a glass of milk that I didn’t even ask him for. In reality, it’s been over a year since that day, when my comfort was so important to him. I talked to Linzy on Wednesday, and after much probing she revealed that when she’d talked to him in the bookstore and told him that I was there, he’d responded when something to the effect of, “I couldn’t really care.” I think his indifference hurts much more than any hatred for me he could conjure. I’m not even worth wasting his time or energy on any more, even though there was a time I’d thought of asking God to save his immortal soul by bartering it with mine—send me to hell, save him instead. Let him know your divine warmth and glory; let him feel the safety, fulfillment, and joy of your presence. I’d be happy in hell if I knew he was finally safe, finally okay, finally happy. I guess that made me the ultimate idolater. And for what? So that eight months later, the guy I not only would have died for, but gone to hell for, could mack on one of my best friends and not even care that he was ripping my heart out all over again?

Damn that son of a bitch.

To Be Continued…

I have much more to tell. I wasn’t kidding when I said it has been a very intense few weeks. I just wanted to post *something* to let everyone know I was still out there. Besides, I need to get caught up. Who knows, something even more exciting could happen this week… ::shudder::


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