things that still bother me

The way I ignored my instinct not to trust him. He slept over, and in the morning, when I was off to work, I yanked him out of bed.  "Let’s go," I said.  But he begged to sleep a little longer.  "I’ll lock up," he promised.  And I didn’t trust it.  I said okay, anyway.  When I came home, everything was the same.  Nothing was missing.  He continued to help me pack up my things.  I made up some boxes, turning them from flat boards into taped boxes, empty, stacked, each one on top of the next.  I had just finished sealing a loaded box and needed a new one.  When I reached for it, I thought it was strange there was a random DVD of mine tucked away.  Hmm.  I returned it to the unsealed box of my DVDs, the one I refused to close because I needed my movies, two new ones each night.  Once I unpacked at the new place, I realized half my DVDs were missing, and a box of my favorite boots.  A brown beaded bracelet.  And a miniature MP3 player I’d just spent $300 on, the one he’d said he was going to pack for me.  And the worst of it, when I confronted him, he denied it.  Brought me some second-rate Pump Up The Volume shit DVDs, "’cause I’ve seen how upset you’ve been over your missing DVDs."  And I confronted him again, and he denied it, quite shocked I had the nerve to accuse him when here he’d given me some of his own movies.  What’s a guy doing with Crazy/Beautiful?  Who’s DVDs did he give me anyway, and where had he put mine.  I still think about it, coming up with imaginary plans to bust him.  How I’ll stalk him down in his neighborhood, "so funny bumping into you!  Do you mind if I just come in and get a sip of water.  So parched."  Cough.  Cough.  Then I’d ask for a tour, looking for my DVDs, the cops waiting outside.  Except I’ll bet he doesn’t live where he said he’d bought an apartment.  I bet he doesn’t have a daughter.  I get sick to my stomach thinking how taken I got.  And the whole time, I just thought something was off about him because he didn’t seem very bright.  Meanwhile, I was the idiot. I haven’t forgiven him or myself, despite knowing I’ll never again, I hope, ignore such an instinct. 

Old journal entries.  I’m bothered because they were written at the start, and I stayed anyway.  Ignoring signs.  The obvious.  Each time thinking something down the line would change.  All the things I complained about in the beginning have remained exactly the same. As I’m sure I have done.  Remained the same, same habits and fears, just older, with more lines, fat, and fewer good clothes.

Why they hated me.  They wouldn’t say.  She still won’t.  Girls at camp.  Friend number 1.
The pearl and diamond earrings in my jewelry box.  The diamonds from my first engagement ring.  The pearls from the trip you took with her.
The way we never gave us a real try.   
How I went into premature labor.
That man who picked me up from Sports of The Future.  Who was he, and why did you send him? You say you don’t remember, but I don’t believe you.  I don’t know what bothers me more, not believing or the memory of you sending in a stranger to pick me up.  I was terrified I was going to be kidnapped.  So we devised a code word only we knew, and if someone was to pick me up, they’d need it.  You never sent anyone else.
The way I treated you.
What we did once we locked the door.
I wonder if when we die, if there is some montage tunnel, if we get to see all of our life’s mysteries revealed: all the things that went missing shown.  My STEPHANIE nameplate with the diamond S, gone.  My diamond earrings.  I would like to know where everything I’ve ever lost has gone.  Except for love.  I don’t need to see that. 



  1. Fantastic list…that must have been cathartic. I adore your writing…you've saved me from many days of boredom at work. I hope you and yours (particularly little Lucas) are all doing well.

  2. This story reminds me of the time I ignored my own instinct. When I was just starting out as a Chef, the Bartender for the restaurant was "that Man". He was sooooo good looking and charming,it still makes me ill. How lucky I thought I was that he chose to lavish his attention on me,(I still flinch when I write that). But there was always this tiny bit of unease that I held for him, he was just a little to glib, a little to smooth. One night after a raucous bout of after work partying, he invited himself home with me. And stupid ass that I am, I held open the door. The next morning
    when I tried to roust him , so that I could head to work. He pleaded exhaustion ,promised he would lock up after himself. I hesitated also. But thought nothing could happen, right… this guy worked with me, he was hugely popular with the staff. He went through my extremely neat drawers and helped himself to the $3500.00+ dollars in cash that I had saved snippet by snippet as Mad cash/emergency money. It was hidden in the bottom of my packed tight sweater drawer. He went through my entire house, helping himself here and there. Cabinets were ajar, things not quite right. I confronted him the next day and of course he acted like I was crazy. Denying everything. The entire kitchen turned against him, we started calling him LITTLE PETEY at every turn. NO pun intended but that was a small justice. Finally like the Snake Oil salesman that he was, he was caught stealing from the till and he was fired. It was never the money or the stuff that fueled my anger it was that I had been not listened to that voice inside that said, wait something is not right. No matter how gut clenchingly handsome he was, I should have listen to myself. I learned.. OH did I learn…..

  3. There is an episode from SNL circa 1988 with John Laroquette that I have been dying to see again, about exactly this post. In it John has died and is in heaven sitting with his angel, Dana Carvey, who is answering all sorts of questions for him- about the girl that secretly loved him, about the grossest thing he ever ate (I remember it was an earwig in some pudding during the world series that John didn't notice). So funny, but so so profound at the same time. I wish someone would youtube it for you.

  4. This one got to me. We are all fools for love…in the end. Or rather at the beginning. We just only recognize it at the end.

  5. What a universal feeling, that sense of deception when something or someone catches you by surprise after you allow yourself to trust (as well you should in a civilized world.) Some people, sadly, have the audacity to take advantage of that. They know they shouldn't, but they go ahead and do it anyway, like it's a dare, like it makes the tougher and stronger somehow. "Just the way of the world, baby. Eat or be eaten." I've always wondered what gives such people the right and how they can sleep at night. It's awful that the insult and injury stay with you, while the other person walks away with your things or with their health or heart intact while you're hurt. There's no proper closure, either.

    Someone I hardly even knew, a man from my old hometown, injured me two years ago. He caused what is beginning to look like irreparable physical harm by pulling a prank that caught me by complete surprise and ended up really hurting me. This thing, his little prank and the injury it led to, still bothers me and God knows how long this will continue. I'm angry whenever I'm in pain, which happens a lot. I can't let go of my anger somehow, because I still can't quite believe what happened. I can't accept this pain; it doesn't belong to me. It should be his. I did nothing to either cause or deserve it.

    It's a travesty, and something in me wants revenge or pay back. The things I'd give to be able to go back and not be so trusting and polite, to be able to say to myself, Who is this guy? He acts like a moron, no way I'm even going to say hello to him… It wouldn't have been PC, but it would've been very much the truth; most of all, it would've protected me from harm. It's so ingrained; damn you, Miss Manners and my grade school teachers, for corrupting me into always being nice and polite instead of following to my gut. So screw that, once and for all. I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that there probably is a certain percentage of truly f*ed up sociopaths in this world who take advantage of other people's civility and good intentions, and with their selfishness and inconsideration, present a clear and present danger to everyone else's health, safety and trust in society.

    With yet another doctor's appt coming up this week, I'm definitely feeling this post. (Please feel free to edit my comment, Stephanie. Didn't intend to hog the blog, just really needed some instant therapy. Thanks for the post.)

  6. My father died March 1, 2006. At the end, he was reading over and over a psalm from the bible. After his death, I read the psalm.. it was about doing harm to someone, others knowing about it and the pain of being ostracized by society.

    My father was a kind, gentle man. My mother told me after his death that he had never forgiven himself for something he said to his sister after her baby died back in the 1940's. His sister never spoke to him again. So sad. He was dearly loved by all… I hope he knew it, we certainly told him over and over again our entire lives.

  7. Love it when you write lists. My list of things that bother me starts and ends with Foxy Brown. Yeah, my life is good.

  8. Fun!

    Waking up too early
    The smell of chlorine
    People who don't tip for their haircuts but overtip cabdrivers
    Kevin Costner movies

  9. I guess I'm lucky, I learned this lesson early in life. Do not trust ANYONE (so says Patty Hewes). This doesn't necessarily mean you have to be rude or impolite. It is possible to watch out, be firm, and sweet all at the same time.

    But why not just let it go? Why can't things just remain mysteries? Why would you let it bother you so? Things like this would drive me crazy if I held on to them.

  10. Good one, I too learned the very hard way – I still find myself being too trusting with new people sometimes, it is hard to remember that people are never what they seem & that your family is most likely the only ones you can trust.

  11. Completely understand. I've had the thought too, that somewhere in the cosmos is a phantom room of all the things I've ever lost, all the clothes my "friends" had swiped in high school and college, all the misplaced rings I (will always) feel guilty losing, especially the ones from my mom. the bag of special things I accidentally trashed before moving. and hey, a box full of boots would stay with me too ; )

  12. I stopped trusting anyone years ago. Easier that way. Hey, Quota – watch Bull Durham and then tell me what you think of Kevin Costner movies.

  13. Allan, seriously? You're going to criticize her for not being entertaining enough for you? For starters, let me help you get your head out of your ass. That should be entertaining for me. Anyone got a towel to wipe his face off? And a breath mint?

  14. I was going to say exactly that, Buffy – all lost things end up in Norfolk. "Never Let Me Go." It broke my heart.

  15. Thanks for this post, Stephanie. And thanks for the comments, commenters–most of you, anyway! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who's felt that little whatever-it-is–gut flinch? soul twitch? and ignored it and then kicked herself for it for YEARS. Why didn't I go back to my car sooner instead of dawdling and then finding my window smashed in and irreplaceable stuff stolen? Why did I turn my back on the stranger who then stole my purse? Why did I repeatedly give the mean boyfriend–and not myself–the benefit of the doubt? Why why why. It's tempting to think there's a good reason for, or a lesson in, it all…but I'm not sure there is. Sometimes things are just effed up, and they hurt, and people suck.

    Unfortunately, you don't often see the payoff for trusting your instincts–you just get the punishment when you don't.
    I still like to think I wasn't wrong for trusting people–they were wrong for abusing my trust. (Though I'd guess that the assholes who stole my stuff/trust/energy haven't spent as much time thinking about that as I have.)

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