Wednesday, September 21

Evacuating the Evacuees

That's really gotta suck, you know?

But you know what sucks more? Galveston Island happens to be probably my favorite place in the whole universe. And, if it takes a direct hit, it'll be underwater. To me, personally, that will be either a total disaster or very nearly a total disaster.

Galveson's beaches are crummy. Most of the population is hovering just above the poverty line, teetering on it, or has fallen below it. Crime's pretty high for such a small population . Mostly its hot as hell and humid. Every direction you look are reminders of the faded glitterati from its days as a booming port-of-call in the late 1800's, like the curled edges of a yellowed photograph. It's prosperity was cut short and its human arrogance humbled by Isaac's Storm. Most people hate Galveston. But this place is a special place to me.

A long time ago, I lived in Houston. I didn't like Houston. In fact, when I lived there, it would be fair to say that I hated Houston. Objectively, its pretty gross. But I harbored resentment towards Clutch City.

See, believe it or not, at one point in my life, the potential energy inside me was palpable. I was a very lucky girl in high school. I was smart, but not too smart. I was pretty but not intimidatingly so. I came from a family with money and I lived in the old money part of town but I was as suspicious of money then as I am now. I sailed through high school. Glided like an ice skater. I was a star. And then the mascara tears came. I fell in love with a boy who would quietly root for my failure for many years. I wanted this boy to really know that he was loved because I had a nagging suspicion that it would be his first time to have been loved. I wanted him to see the things in me that I love about myself and love them, too. And, if we were to shrink me a bit more, I believe that we would undoubtedly find that these urges result from a basically abortive and absent workaholic neurologist for a dad. So, when I was accepted to Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, and Mount Holyoke, I smiled weakly, put the acceptance letters in a box inside a box inside an old piece of luggage in my closet and I never told anyone until a year ago. Because he was going to Houston, and so was I. I suppose this sounds too very 'poor little rich girl'. I suppose I am leaving out important parts to the story. Oh, well.

So, we went to Houston. I lost interest in my long time dream of becoming a physician within a few months. I remembered that I don't like touching sick people. How ironic.

My second semester, I moved out of the dorm and I got my own apartment. I felt like a new woman. I decided to become an archeologist. And within two weeks, he moved himself in. Within a two more weeks he had started calling me names pretty regularly. Within two more weeks he had started throwing things when he was angry. It escalated at this rate until the end of my summer semester, when I went numb. I had so much love, you know? So so much love to give. And he didn't want it. In fact, when I gave it, he would punish me in one way or another for it. I didn't understand that and it seemed I would never find anyone who wanted it.

I developed an untestable hypothesis: The quickest way to get someone to develop an unmitigated hatred towards you would be to offer them the potential of limitless undying love.

I would drive to Galveston every night, about half an hour before he would be home from school/work, and go to this one spot on the west side, near San Luis Pass and LaFitte's Cove. I had to get away from him, I had to get away from my apartment that smacked of him and I had to get away from the city that had lured me away from my dreams with promises of love.

You had to take a crookedy side road to get to my spot but it was mostly desolate most of the time. There was no beach. Just the elevated seawall and sea. And I would sit in my shiny new Mustang convertible and cry and cry and cry and smoke and smoke and smoke. I would look out to the ocean and let the feeling of inconsequence that it evoked carry me through those sleepless hours. I felt mostly dead but I kept hoping.

But I didn't want to believe my own hypothesis because I'm a guilt-harboring romantic idealist. I kept hoping, you know? And then, one day, I just stopped feeling. Sort of. The groaning from some unspecified place in my gut was loud. And one day it deafened me. I decided that I might prefer to die. So, I drove to my spot to think it over. I cringe that because I am here writing this you will be able to write off the absolute seriousness with which I considered suicide. I offer you my most resolute assurances that having love pent up inside, to the point of suffocation, because unleashing the love was like unleashing annihilation, made me wish for death.

So, I got out of my car and I looked out over the ocean. I smoked my Marlboro but I didn't cry. Then the wind whipped my hair around my neck. You know that feeling? That shivery, goosebumpy feeling that happens when the wind whips you hair on your unsuspecting skin? That feeling can't last longer than two seconds. But its a good feeling. Its a feeling of aliveness. Its a stimulus and response.

And I decided then that I had to be brave for love. For loves unknown and loves undiscovered and loves unrequited and maybe even loves that would always be unrealized. And being brave for them meant not dying. And I decided that, in the meantime, I would rely on those sporadic moments of visceral experience - of wind whipping your hair and rain making your skin wet in that way that only rain can - that I would rely on those things to remind me that I was still a human. I decided that, maybe, that's what being human was all about. Deciding to live when dying was much easier.

And I decided to live on that typically mild, but windy, night sometime in December 1999 in Galveston, Texas. And I had wanted to take my current boyfriend there. We had almost gone over Labor Day. I wanted to take him to my spot. Wish I had. Hope its still there when I can go next.

3 comments:

asilla said...

Found your blog and decided to read all of this post. I must say even though I live in Texas I've never been to Galveston. Perhaps the hurricane will go more south than north, who knows..well in that case if it does go south it's coming my way :/ anyways, it was a good read. thanks

Fuz said...

You are an incredible writer. I'm glad you came out of that experience-here I was going to say "sane and whole," but who truly is sane and whole? My weakest and most selfish reason for being overjoyed that you live for the small moments is that you write about them, and that I can read what you write.

And that's a bit of happiness for me.

The Primordial Stewardess said...

Fuz...

I don't really know what to say.

Thank you.

It makes me happy that it makes you happy. What a great feedback loop - I never want to leave it.