I know it’s cliche and basic but I’m hopelessly beholden to the charm of a New Year and the promise it brings. There’s nothing I want to believe in more than fresh starts and renewed thoughts of who I might become. I live for dividing lines of Before and After and love that striking clock, like ta da! Clean slate, if you want it.
But New Years also reminds me of something else. Another night, years ago, when the clock struck midnight and there was no Auld Lang Syne or tolerable thought beyond the noise of a train passing near The Hovel. I focused so thoroughly on that sound, as though it were a portkey that could lift me up and out of a room where something was happening that I couldn’t stop.
When it was over, all I wanted to know was what time it was– before or after midnight? A trail of bruises was forming all over my body, but if it was before midnight then I could push them back into the previous year, like something to leave behind and sweep under the rug as before.
I’m pretty sure it was after midnight, though. Because from that point on I’d crossed a new line into a darker sort of after that I’d never fully escape. Not really.
I think people imagine sexual assault victims as looking over their shoulder in an alley or stuffed into the back of a murder van, which is fair. But for me, I was in my own $450/month “house” with my dog in the backyard and my cell phone in the other room.
My friend Sars texted me about an hour afterwards. She was jet-lagged from a delayed flight and knew I’d still be awake.
“Apparently a volcano erupted in The Philippines,” she wrote. “It threw the whole flight off. Can I stop by?”
I wadded my ruined clothing into a ball and shoved it in the corner of my closet, a lie already forming on my lips.
“Sure,” I texted. “Come over.”
I’d showered by the time she got there and I wouldn’t go to the hospital for a few more days. By then the truth had transformed itself into something far more palatable. The sort of thing you can convince yourself to live with– at least for a little while. [Read more…]
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