Of Monarchs and Misery

December 21, 2017
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I hate driving.

That’s what I tell Kathy when she asks me why I don’t have a license yet. As if three words could explain the upside down logic of my mind when I get into a car. At our session yesterday we talked about more of the same: How are you feeling? Are you eating? Have you talked to anyone? Did he call you again? Are you okay that he didn’t? The repetitive nature of our sessions is comforting. I know, no matter how bad it gets, I can always fall back into the tearing brown loveseat, wrapped in the thick afghan Kathy made herself, and tell her that I’m feeling fine, I’m eating okay, I haven’t, he didn’t, yes.
Sometimes the sessions deter from the comfort of routine. Sometimes it’s okay; sometimes we get to talk about Kathy or her angel statues or Emily Dickinson. Sometimes, Kathy actually digs deeper into a phrase I used or a body expression I showed. Sometimes I want to hate her for actually doing her job, but I can never find myself to hate someone so giving, so caring. I think maybe that’s Kathy’s secret weapon.
Anyway.
I hate driving, but it’s more than that. I hate driving for many many reasons, all of which Kathy would call “irrational” if I told her, so all I said was “I hate driving”- the biggest understatement of the century.
When I was a kid I read a comic where the girl’s dad died in a car accident because his legs were pinned under the dashboard. Pinned. Like a dead butterfly on the wall of some scientist’s house, intricate wings subdued by two pushpins and a plane of glass. Which sucks because even though my legs are long my torso is short and my seat is as close to the dash as possible, meaning that if I were flipped over a mountain side my legs would be subjected to the same intimate torture of a dead monarch.
But that’s not why I hate driving.
The French have this thing called “L’appel du vide,” which means “call of the void.” It’s the feeling you get when driving over a bridge or merging 70 on a highway. It’s the sneaky idea in the back of your head that says “jerk your wheel to the right.” It’s the terrifying realization that one fluid movement will launch you over the cliff or into speeding cars, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Most people, after experiencing l’appel du vide, shake it off, turn up the radio, and continue on their way to work. I don’t think I’d actually turn the wheel… but I don’t want to find out. I would definitely think about it for the rest of the day, and Kathy would be crushed to know I was imagining death again. All her hard work down the drain.
But that’s not why I hate driving.
I hate driving because the only car I have is his, and every time I get near it my chest tightens and I feel trapped again. I hate driving because he used to make me drive him home when the bar finally kicked him out. I hate driving because every time I slide into the leather seat and turn on the engine all I see is his body on the road and me running the b*****d over.
I hate driving, but not as much as I hate him.






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