She ran into his daughter at a music festival.
“Oh my god girl, how are you?”
“I’m good, I’m good! How are you?”
“I’m doing okay!”
They hugged awkwardly. Funny how this was the daughter she had ended up connecting with. This girl was very stand-offish to her at first, afraid that Our Girl would end up hurting her Papa, afraid she would take his heart and grind it into the dirt with the heels of a pair of stiletto’s that she never, ever wore.
Yeah, Our Girl as vixen! As if!
They chatted amiably for a bit, talked about the dogs, and the chickens, and how it was nice that summer was here, even if it did mean mosquito’s. Finally, his daughter said:
“He misses you.”
Our Girl snorted!
“He drove me away, you know that don’t you?”
This was not going to be easy. She couldn’t believe the anger she felt as she unconsciously picked up the pace of her words to keep time with the band on stage.
“He told me I reminded him of one of his exes, a woman he’d already talked about, the woman with no chin, you know who I mean? Well I reminded him of her! From what he said she was AWFUL, and passive aggressive and MEAN! He said that I laughed like her! There was also some girl he hadn’t even dated, who’d messed up things between him and his best friend. He said I had her mannerisms…those were his reasons for not being able to see a future with me! Not because of anything I’d done, or who I am, NO!!! It was because I reminded him of horrible women…” She was starting to shake. (“Wow, apparently I’ve been repressing some feelings!” she thought, almost benignly, as fury began to envelope her like a coat of glowing coals. “And they say women can’t compartmentalize!”) ”Well, that and my snoring,” she continued “which to tell the truth, I think was a crock as well since he certainly had no problems sleeping with me when it suited him!”
His daughter looked stricken. “I’m sorry….” she whispered.
“Do you know that he wanted to be “friends with benefits? That he wanted me to stay on his land, keep my trailer parked there, have sex with him, but not be in a relationship with him? Do you know that?”
“No…I…uh..um…didn’t.” his daughter stammered.
“Do you know that every time I had sex with him after he got back from Seattle, I would have to leave him, leave the arms of the man I had just made love with, leave the warm soft bed, and trudge across the cold dark yard—usually in the rain—to my trailer? To sleep ALONE! Did you know that? Made me feel like a whore! And, honestly, to this day, I wonder if it was my DOG’S snoring that kept him awake, and not even mine, since no one else has EVER had a problem sleeping in the same room with me!”
She half chuckled as she went on:
Honestly though, I think that was just a distancing tool for him, an excuse he could use to push me away, just like my ‘mannerisms’ and my ‘laugh’!!” She hated using her fingers to mime quotation marks, but she did it anyway! She practically had smoke pouring out of her ears.
“He would suck me in by being kind and loving, and wanting to kiss me; and sometimes he would slip up and say something about a future again…then up went the thick transparent wall and he would reject me again…and again…..and again!
She was running out of steam. The band had finished it’s fast song and the guitarist was strumming the opening chords of a bittersweet ballad. She changed her tone and her tempo accordingly, took a deep breath and began once more:
“I fell hard for your’ dad. I started falling in love with him the first night we met… He was so sweet and romantic, and he talked about how things might be with the two of us. He called me his girlfriend on our second date…then a few days later the distancing started. We would have these wonderful nights where we talked and talked, and then the days in between would be…weird! And he would make these pronouncements about how he expected me to behave, or not behave, and it was never based on who I am or how I act…I’m sure he was treating me like those bitches that he said I reminded him of, and, I gotta tell you, I felt like I was made to defend someone I wasn’t… I realized later that maybe he had been testing me, trying to get me to stand up for myself, trying to see if he could “respect” me. I’ve heard some guys do that…but if that’s the case, it’s even more bullshit! Being tested by a guy is just ridiculous! Just take the time to get to know me, you’ll find out if I can be respected or not! (which I CAN, by the way!) After that I just clammed up, I didn’t know what to say, or how to talk to him anymore…” she trailed off.
“Look, your’ dad hurt me. I know he didn’t mean to, but he did. It’s like he took this beautiful glittering thing that was what could have been between us, and he held it up and showed me the promise in it of how our lives might unfold with each other. And then he took it…and threw it away, and me with it. Excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for your’ dad for ‘missing’ me! He SHOULD miss me!”
This time a deep throaty laugh boiled up from her gut. It tasted of bile, in a metaphorical sense. as she thought of one last thing…
“You know what he told me the day that I left? Just before I drove off he said “I DO love you!” What the hell am I supposed to do with that? He loves me but he can’t be bothered to treat me as though he does? He loves me, but only as a whore that lives in a trailer across the yard? He loves me, but only on his terms? That’s not love…I don’t know what it is, but it’s NOT love!”
She sighed and felt strangely calm, like letting loose of her anger was the final healing force that might put this man behind her.
“Look, your’ dad’s a good man. I wish him well. But he did hurt me…and besides, if he misses me so much, he’s got my email address and phone number.”
“He thinks you won’t come back.” His daughter said.
“And he’s right! I won’t! Not to the same situation, with the same bullshit, and the same push-me/pull-me crap! I deserve better! I deserve to be treated like I’m adored, not like I’m tolerated. I won’t put up with anything less!”
(She wanted to say that she WOULD come back if he loved her, really loved her, and promised to treat her differently. But she stopped herself…)
And that was that. They said their goodbyes, and Our Girl went to watch the next band play. Right in the pit, in the fray of things. Right where she liked to be.