Isn’t it funny (and not ha-ha funny, more like knock-the-wind-out-of-you awful and strange) how you remember most vividly the mortifying things that happen to you?
When I was in 7th grade, a boy named James told me I had a big twinkly, shiny nose. It had never occurred to me before that my nose was that much out of the ordinary, and looking back, this comment was probably more in the vein of I-like-you-so-I’m-going-to-tease-you and not meant to be cruel, but it sparked a neurosis that haunts me to this day. You will never see a picture of me in profile, and at any given moment I generally have a powder compact or blotting papers within reaching distance.
When I was in middle school, I was “going out” with a boy named Alan. One weekday evening, my friend Kristina called me from the pay phone outside the school gym. She and Alan had stayed to watch a basketball game. Kristina told me that Alan said if I wouldn’t kiss him, we would have to break up. I was in my third year of wearing braces, and terrified at the thought of kissing a boy and him telling everyone I had food in my brackets, or some ridiculous thing. I said I couldn’t do it, and I heard her move the phone away from her mouth and tell him, “She said no.” I hear him murmur something, and Kristina ended the call by saying, “Okay, you’re broken up then. Bye!” CLICK.”
When I was a freshman in high school, I had to write a biographical paper on Freud for my pre-AP English class. In typical Gin fashion, I put it off until the very last minute and was up until the not-so-wee-anymore hours finishing it on the day it was due. Towards the end, I was just rambling and throwing in sources and citations to meet the minimum requirements. I can still quote the last line of the paper, but it was so awful and I’m so ashamed of it that doing so would make my head explode, and I wouldn’t be able to look any of you in the eye.
When I was a junior in college, my mom and dad drove up to visit me for Parent’s Weekend. On Saturday night, in the middle of the stadium parking lot, my mom and I ended up getting into a screaming fight in front of hundreds of people leaving the stands after the game. She threw a biscuit at me that she’d saved in her purse from dinner (I don’t know what the fuck that was about). I went back to my room and sobbed on the floor for a long time. Jamie came and held me, and we rocked back and forth on the floor, for a minute? An hour? All night? The next morning, she and my dad stopped by the campus to say goodbye before they made the drive back to
The incidents that I wish most to be stricken from my memory are those are the ones that hang doggedly on, popping up in nightmares or in wandering thoughts on a random Tuesday, sending my stomach plummeting to my toes, my palms clammy, tears pricking my eyes. The red-letter days – the ones that I want to engrave on my heart so I can treasure every scent, every sound, every ray of sunshine, every word of every song we heard on the radio on the way there – are the ones that are fuzzy. The only distinct memory of my first kiss is that it was near a dumpster. All I remember from my college graduation was slipping off my painful heels after I made my walk across the stage, and that J told me later the kid sitting next to him was Mormon and tried to witness to him. I can’t recall much of my wedding day, even though it was only four years ago.
I had one of the shitty, sickening things happen at work on Friday. I’ve spent the past three days brooding, crying, nursing an ulcer. And even though the mistake I made was an honest one, and in the end can be corrected with little pain, I know that this will be one of the memories that haunts me for years. Even though I can try to psych myself up, play all of my Loud Bangy Fierce music on the way to work tomorrow, walking in and facing the repercussions Monday morning will be unpleasant. (I’ll note here that it’s entirely possible that I’m making too much of this, and that it all may blow over with little more than a chiding email and a bruised ego, but that won’t erase the punch-in-the-gut feeling of I Fucked Up that keeps washing over me).
If you could spare some good vibes, please send them my way.