Friday, August 27, 2004

PART 39 - Crash into Me

This is the most recent piece of music I have referenced in this blog, but after reading about The Dave Matthews Band's legal woes over a certain expelling of liquids on a Chicago ferry boat, I had to include one of their pieces. It is perfect timing, really, considering I am at a similar point in my story. Read on.

Crash Into Me
Dave Matthews

You've got your ball,you've got your chain
Tied to me tight, tie me up again
Who's got their claws in you my friend?
Into your heart I'll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock, and sweet you roll
Lost for you, I'm so lost for you
Oh, and you come
Into me
And I come into you . . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Don's dramatic exit didn't mark the last chapter with him. He continued to call, and come by, and leave me notes and letters on my car at work. My regret and sorrow from our breakup soon melted away into aggravation - I didn't like him showing up unannounced. I tried to be as kind as I could to him, but my patience was wearing thin. It felt like I was wading through alot of bullshit, and I was growing tired of that.

Speaking of wading through shit, I was doing JUST that. One early morning just after the New Year, I was groggily driving the few miles to work, trying to stay awake, when I saw a very large dumptruck in front of me hit its brakes. I did the same, and as the seconds ticked by while we waited for the redlight to change, I absentmindedly sipped some coffee, and searched for a station that didn't jangle my nerves. I glanced up just in time to see the truck lurch forward - the light had finally changed. The truck must have been overloaded, it seemed to strain to move forward, and there was water draining out of the back. Just as I began to wonder what the truck was hauling, the back tailgate gave way and a tidal wave of brown liquid shit water doused my entire car. My hand to God.

I was stunned, not realizing what had just happened. Disgustingly enough, I turned on the windshield wipers to sling away the slimy layer of waste so that I could see to drive. The truck continued on its way, it never stopped, but I saw a placard that indicated that it was a County Water Department truck. The smell was . . . horrible. Just horrible.

An hour later, after the car had been towed, I was at work, lighting a fire under the county water department manager about what had just happened. He was flippant at first, and then when I told him I worked for an environmental engineering company with close ties to the EPA and would be glad to make a call about how the county was hauling human waste in open flatbed dumptrucks, he became very very friendly and accomodating.

The car was sent to a detail shop for a full workover. They steam cleaned the engine, handwashed and waxed the exterior, scrubbed and dressed the tires and rims, steam cleaned the seats and carpeting, and replaced the A/C lines. They gave me $2 grand to boot. The insurance company made them do a few more things. The car never looked better, but I couldn't get over the idea of what had happened to it.

I had loved that car. I had hand picked it and taken good care of it. I had paid it off, it had transported me away from my hellacious marriage, and it had been the carriage of choice for many of my outings with my friends over the past couple of years. It had been a great car, and now, I couldn't wait to dump it (no pun intended). It was a beautiful, loaded Taurus SHO, with every option imagiable, including heated leather seats, moonroof, keyless entry, digital dash, you name it . . . but the love affair was over.

My Taurus - except mine had a cool spoiler package and moonroof

All of my friends called it the "Shitmobile". The idea of driving it anymore pretty much repulsed me. That shit-soaked car came to represent everything that had once been good but then had gone wrong, and it was time to move on.

So, I did what any self-respecting southern, white, newly-single girl would do.

Yep. I bought a Camaro.

My Camaro

I had never had a sports car, and I figured I was due. I had always secretly wanted a Camaro, and I found one that was about a year old, and it was in perfect condition. The previous owner had babied it, and gotten into a little financial bind, so I was the lucky recipient.

If you have never driven a high performance, redneck sports car, I can't recommend it highly enough. Something incredibly sexy and fulfilling about hearing that big-ass engine rev when you hit the gas, and surveying the road over the long, sloped nose makes you feel like a road God. Well, it did me.

I tricked it out a little further by getting a cellphone installed (that was cool back then) and a set of teal neons that ran the length of the undercarriage, making the car appear to be some kind of Nascar hovercraft when I cruised in the evening (that was also cool, in a Panama City sort of way.)

In that car, I felt like I owned the world, and that anything was possible. I loved driving it, loved washing it, loved parking it way back in the work parking lot so that no one would scratch it, I just loved everything about it. Looking at it carried no baggage, no memories, nothing but promises of fun and escape.

Nothing surpassed the feeling that I got driving that car to the new dance club that had just opened the month before: The Crystal Chandelier. This club was TWICE the size of Nashville Sound, and had a valet staff, 8 bars, a house band, concerts every weekend, and a weekly Ladies Night with a $2,000 balloon drop. It became our new hangout, and more times than not, the valets would rush to get my keys to take it for a spin around the lot.

That club had a MUCH larger pool of partners to choose from, and Rick and I seemed to have escalated to a duel, of sorts. We still met there as friends with the rest of the group, and we would generally dance once or twice together, but then he would choose other partners while I sat at the table chatting with our friends. It was silly, but it hurt every time he did it. Of course, it was innocent, just dancing, and he likely had no idea that I was upset by it, but I was so overwhelmed with my feelings for him, everything he did had a major impact on me. I was frustrated with how juvenile and silly my feelings were, and I redoubled my efforts to hide any trace of them. Meanwhile, I filled my dancecard with other partners, and even though it was fun, I still found myself watching him. Sometimes, I caught him watching me, too.

Occasionally he would approach me and a partner and ask to cut in, without any explanation, and we would dance together, with nothing more than a smile passed between us. I began to panic and stammer every time I saw him - it felt just like I had felt over Jack so many, many years ago - silent, unable to speak, and dying inside. Damn it! Why couldn't I just TALK to him about this? Why all this posturing? What did it all mean? Did he feel ANYTHING for me? My inability to express my feelings was becoming intolerable. I dreamed about confessing to him, and each dream had some kind of humiliating result. It was driving me crazy, and finally, in a moment of clarity (or maybe it was fatigue), I had an epiphany.

It was there, laying in my bed alone one night. I had been thinking about Rick, and Don, and my ex, and even further back . . . how often I had not been able to voice what I was feeling, how many times I had silenced myself, and how often it had been disastrous for me. What was I scared of? Then it dawned on me: I wasn't scared of anything anymore. What I felt, I felt, and no one could command my feelings but me. I couldn't control anyone else, either. Maybe Rick had feelings for me, maybe he didn't, but suddenly, it didn't seem to matter all that much anymore. I cared about him, and I was entitled to feel it. If I wanted to, I could say it, and he wouldn't be obligated to do anything, but I would be able to say what I was feeling out loud. It was so simple, but it was so alien to me. Saying what I feel, out loud, not worrying about the reactions of others, not holding secrets. I immediately felt better.

Rick's birthday fell on a weeknight, and most of our group was busy with other things, so we all decided to celebrate it the following Saturday. The week before his birthday, I had thought and thought about what to get him; it was a chance to convey to him what I felt and what he meant to me. Like a bolt of lightning, it hit me. Rummaging through my jewelry box, I found the packet of diamonds that I had had removed from my wedding set - I had used three of them in a new set, and had just held on to the remaining ones. Rick's ear was pierced, and he wore a small while gold stud. I decided to have one of my small diamonds set for him, and I picked it up from the jeweler the day of his birthday.

Calling him from the car, I caught him alone at home and asked him if I could come by and bring a little gift. He sounded a little down at first, but he seemed to cheer up when he told me to come on over.

When I arrived at his house, it was mostly dark. He was sitting in his den, alone, watching a movie. He hugged me hello with one arm, and held a beer with his other hand. It had definitely not been his first that evening, but he wasn't staggering, he was just comfortably buzzed.

"Happy Birthday, Rick," I said as I sat across from him on the couch.

"Well, thank you darlin'. Glad you are here to spend it with me," he said as he raised his beer into the air in a mock toast. Wordlessly, I handed him the small box and the card I had written for him. Placing the little box on his leg, he balanced it there precariously while he set his beer on the side table and carefully opened the card. He read it aloud. "To Rick: a diamond among the rubble. Happy Birthday - Rita." With a curious look on his face, he began to open the little package. When he opened the lid on the little jewelry box, he looked pleased and surprised at the same time. "Thank you! I have wanted to get one of these for awhile now." As he put it in his ear, he glanced at his reflection in a mirror on the opposite wall "It glimmers like a real one!" he said with delight.

I smiled warmly and said, "That's because it IS a real one," and I enjoyed the shocked look on his face. I also secretly enjoyed the fantasy of the temper tantrum my ex would throw if he ever knew that one of the diamonds that he had bought for me was now proudly perched in this cowboy's ear.

"I don't know what to say," he said, a look of shock and surprise still on his face.

"Don't say anything, just enjoy it. I'm pleased you like it," I began. "But there are a couple of things that I would like to tell you. I'm glad we have a quiet minute together."

He looked at me thoughtfully, clicked off the muted television, and said, "Shoot, sweetie . . . I'm all ears."

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