Slowly, like a small pitiful first bloom, the need to read and write is coming back to me. Idea's are plentiful, they usually are. I watch a movie, read a blob, anything really can find me and an idea is born. I'll think about zombies, usually around the time an episode of The Walking dead is on, and I'll want to write a story from their perspective. I'll think about the twisted way humans punish each other and themselves. The way hate breeds and love dies.
Maybe it's spring, the changing of the seasons the fact that the sun continues to shine. I feel hopeful, like in the near future I'll actually write something good. Today I came across a story about a girl I went to High School with. Though it happened years ago, and I remember when it was a hot-topic, somehow today of all day's it resonated with me. I think of where I grew up with a mixture of bittersweet memories. I had friends I loved, churches, activities. There were many community programs, dinners at the elks, football games on Friday's. Fireworks, hot air balloons. Every season had it's activities. Homecoming floats downtown, the Christmas parade in the winter. Easter egg hunts, Prom. The Horned Toad Derby. Camp Yeager. I both love and hate where I come from.
I think that's probably how it is for everyone. We love some things and hate the others. Parts are tainted by pain and hate, while others are filled with the colorful wonder of childhood. Though I have a common story, something smaller in comparison. I know where she was coming from. I felt that bitter sting of judgement and the sharp tongues of gossipmongers who had nothing better to do. So I get it. She was a year behind me. A sweet beautiful girl. Someone who struggled more than she should. I remember in particular that we had Lab Bio together. A subject I loved. A teacher I would never speak ill of, but teenager's however, can be assholes. The town I grew up in, or I should say we grew up in was small.
Small towns make for hateful breeding grounds. Every dirty secret, every bad decision, every lie, every curse (mine a wild older sibling) follows you. There is no rebirth, no second chances. You make your decisions and that's it, if you're lucky you have friends. If you're exceptionally lucky you have more than one. I myself had many. Not all of them were close friends, I grazed, rotated daily, and was a free wanderer. I had a few close friends, but mostly I roamed. This was an acquired notion one that I learned because of my own bad experiences.
When I was fifteen, I lost my virginity. My choices though not broadcasted in the very public way hers were, were still picked apart. Everyone knew what I had done. Not because people generally discuss the sexual escapades of a teenager, though it happens in small towns. Not because I became the statistical calamity that is teenage pregnancy. My escapades were broadcasted because my father, not altogether a sane man, decided to press charges.
My boyfriend at the time was older. An eighteen year old senior to my fifteen year old freshman self. He wasn't a dirty old man, or some disgusting pedaphile. He was a teenage boy, dating a teenage girl. This is not uncommon. High school boys dating high school girls, in fact you could say that this particular scenario is as old as time. Boy meets girl, hormones explode, people get naked. I don't regret my decisions. I loved him, but what my father did, in a small town, was like throwing dynamite into my social life.
He pressed charges. Statutory Rape.
It didn't matter that I was a more than willing participant. It didn't matter that I a hormone raging female wanted to have sex with the ferocity of a starving animal. It didn't matter that I was the one who initiated the act. My father blew up this guys life.
Needless to say the whole town was talking. People I didn't even know suddenly knew my name. I was instantly the town slut. A whore, it got so bad that the boy I had been dating, his older sister started stalking me. I had packs of girls following me home and chanting whore all the way there. I had girls standing outside my house yelling profanity's. Once, while at the local Dairy Queen, this boys sister yelled at me in the parking lot, told me I needed to learn to keep my legs shut, my older sister, laughed in her face. Said that I was just a kid, and she the older sister of this older boy should know better.
I was heartbroken. Humiliated. What was supposed to be an act of love, became a circus. I had to undergo a rape kit.
This in and of itself is demeaning. I stood buck naked in a room full of people and was made to spread myself and allow a black light to check my skin. I was fifteen. Barely familiar with sex, and raped for real that day, by the nurses, and police officers who thought they were doing the right thing. I don't think I was old enough to be having sex, but I don't think what they did was the answer. What they did to him....a trial, jail, probation. It wasn't right. Sure he was older, and legally an adult, but really when I look back he was just as much a kid as I was. He didn't deserve it.
Years later, as I lost friends, and rebuilt my life. I found out why the other kids at school were so upset with me. Though the girls were just, as if not more sexually active as I was, I was being punished for one reason...I got caught. When I was a senior, my boyfriend at the time told me something truly disturbing. He was a college student, going to the local community college, and he told me that his Professor, a grown man, with a college education. A man that taught others for a living, told my boyfriend, that I was a slut.
This was three years later. Three years. I had sex with one boy, and yet I was a slut. A grown man said this, a man I didn't even know. My boyfriend of course asked me about it, wondering why his college professor said that I wasn't worth the trouble.
The reason I bring this up, the reason I'm even delving back into these memories is for her. She wrote a blog, not unlike this one, about our hometown. A place I left as fast as humanly possible. It is tainted. By idleness, by jealousy's and gossip. By people that are old enough to know better but don't care. They ignore their better judgement and continue on. It is small, ignorant, and I am ashamed. I don't return, just as I am sure she will never return.
People in small towns aren't bad per say, but the smallness of it, makes everything to them seem big. So when she wrote her blog, and it circulated, and they behaved badly. Well all I can really say is that I'm not surprised. People will go on living small, and talking big, and other people will be hurt by it. The best thing I got from that town was my adaptability. Those hard few years of high school taught me how to live. I stopped caring what they thought and ignored the bullies, even the grown up ones, and learned to be myself.
I learned to not take it all so seriously and just exist, in a moment, in a minute, in the future I would someday have. Getting out was beautiful, but staying, fighting, living through it, was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. So I thank the asshole professor who told my high school boyfriend I was a whore, I thank my first's older sister who told me to keep my legs shut, I thank the teachers who scowled and shook their heads, the girls who looked away when boys taunted me, and the friends who remained without judgement, I thank the police on campus who actually cared, and made me feel minimally safe on campus, but could do nothing once I had to walk home. I thank them, because without them I wouldn't be the thick skinned, bad ass that I am now. Pick on someone who gives a shit why don't you. I really hoped that once I left things would change.
Oh Coalinga, you are still a freaking asshole, but for some reason I still love you. You could say its one of those ugly love-hate relationships. I wouldn't change it, but that doesn't mean it should stay the same.