Way back before phones were smart and tags were hashed, I went to college. It was there that I met the Wasband. I first spotted him sitting in the back of a fireside—that’s an extracurricular church meeting, for the uninitiated—and I had two thoughts, which of them came first I’m not quite sure.
Thought one: What’s that good-for-nothing doing in cargo shorts and a t-shirt at a fireside?
Thought two: He’s handsome. I will have him.
And I did.
I’m pretty good at getting what I want. I finagle and figure and generally make stuff happen. Unfortunately, what one wants may be the thing that does the most damage. I came out of the whole deal scathed. However, there were good years, though I don’t remember them. And there was laughing, though I don’t remember it. And there are merry memories—that I don’t recall.
One of my brain’s greatest strengths is its greatest weakness. I forget things. Or do I repress them? In either case—I don’t remember. I know that the last six months of 2012—July and September most significantly—were the worst months of my life. But really, I don’t remember much of that time. I know I cried myself to dehydration. I know I watched Downton Abbey over and over and over. I know that I couldn’t sleep, so I asked for drugs. I know that my family and friends were more there for me than I ever thought I’d be comfortable with. I know I got a therapist. But I have don’t have concrete memories of that time.
And along that same vein, I don't miss my married life since I can’t remember what was good about it. I can’t call the Wasband’s face to mind anymore. I know that I don't think he's handsome anymore. If I try to picture him, I get dark hair, thick eyebrows, and that’s about it. We weren’t picture-takers, so very little of my last decade is definitive. My mind is a selective sieve. There are things I forget that I wish I’d remember. And then there’s the stuff that I’m grateful to forget.
One thing I do remember and prize from my time with the Wasband is a lesson that I taught myself.
When we were in school, he lived off-campus. I lived on. One evening he retrieved me from the dorm, and as I got on the back of his motorcycle he asked if I should run back inside, change into pants instead of a skirt, and maybe grab a jacket. It was warm, so I said no. He persisted. So did I. When we drove off campus my arms and legs were bare.
It was cold when he brought me home that night. On the back of his bike, I shivered. “Do you want my jacket?” he asked. “Nope,” I chattered back, “I’ve got my choices to keep me warm.”
It’s a phrase I hang onto and mold to fit circumstances. Stayed up too late and find myself damn tired the next morning? Well, I’ve got my choices to keep me alert. Elected to eat six or seven cookies after having candy for breakfast? I’ve got my choices to make me feel thin.
See, I make my world. That’s what I taught myself. I can’t control as much as I’d like to. The people around me have influence. But at the core of this life are my choices. And I’ve got them to keep me happy.