hyde and seek

So I am poolside with my best ex, laughing about that time he blackened my eye. Reflected in his sunglasses, my son floats casually by on an inner tube. I turn to appreciate it just in time to see a beautiful dive bomb executed by my ex’s son, which attempts to sink my son completely. My son responds by picking up his son, and hurling him across the pool.

Behind them, my goddaughter chases his nephew at top speed around the pool’s edge with a water pistol, both of them screaming their lungs out.

Today, we are the parents about whom other hotel guests are half-whispering, “That couple needs to control their children.”

Um, we’re not a couple.

And technically, they’re not all our children.

Plus we’re kind of busy here. Enjoying each other.

Now, what was I talking about?

Oh right, the violence I sustained at the mercy of this man’s fist.

Remember?

Because he doesn’t.

Anymore, this is my favorite part of the story: his having no memory of it.

For him, the story begins the morning we woke up on a mattress on the fire escape landing of an apartment we shared when we were far too young to be sharing an apartment. I had a black eye, and the words, “Why does living with you have to be such a fucking amusement park?” scrawled on my arm in permanent marker.

“What happened?” he asked, scared.

The story of what happened is mine.

And it’s interesting how many variations there have been on it as all of the years have passed, depending on whether or not he was in favor with me at the time.

Back in the day, I loved him in the recklessly abandoned way that any wild girl loves a boy. I was crazy and disturbed, an enthusiastic consumer of almost any substance or experience put before me.

A committed relationship being, oddly, the most dangerous.

For three years, I was full of fear that it couldn’t last. And when it finally didn’t, it broke my heart in a special way. The way a heart only gets broken once.

Which led to my running thousands of miles away, to live with an uncle who had formerly disowned me. My father’s brother, reluctant to take me in, but eager to to send his sons to beat my ex up for me, should I want that. I didn’t, but it brought me great peace regardless. I slept better knowing the option was at my disposal.

It took less than a year for my uncle to disown me again. Special circumstances are required for a twenty-year-old to be disowned by a faraway relative she scarcely knows. Twice. But that’s another story.

The point is, I was too much for him.

Whereas my ex? He stuck around.

I mean, obviously. He’s still here.

Making me laugh and helping me raise my son.

Still worrying over how I woke up that morning with a black eye.

“How could I have let something like that happen?” he asks again now.

I shrug. It was a really long time ago. And to tell the truth, I’m not even sure myself what the real story is anymore.

I just know I love its ending.

*          *          *

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4 thoughts on “hyde and seek

    1. thank you so much.

      with the early part of your life so enmeshed in a religion not of your choosing, i can only imagine that you also often feel the ground shifting beneath your memories?

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