This is my worst-ever Christmas memory:
I spent my second year of college at the University of Delaware. After I finished my first year at Southern Utah State, I specifically moved East so my best friend from High School, Lorna, and I could do our second year of college together.
We traveled to Ohio that summer to attend a pagan/Wiccan festival, then drove down to Newark, DE, and put a deposit on an apartment for the fall before returning home to Newport, RI, to finish out our summer.
It was during those few remaining days of summer that Lorna met this guy at a bar and fell completely ass over teakettle in love. At least, that’s what it appeared to be at first. I didn’t like the guy because he was really foul mouthed and ignorant. I mean, every second or third word was “fuck.” Literally. He had a criminal record and he was constantly in search of drugs. He made my skin crawl.
My hopes that this end of summer fling would die out when we moved down to Delaware to start the fall semester were dashed when Lorna arranged for this guy, who wanted to be called “Lucky” (I never knew his real name), to drive our rental truck. And when we got there, the son-of-a-bitch stayed and moved right in.
No job. No money. Drug habit. Couch potato and TV hog. At least Lorna agreed that I should only have to pay a third if he was going to keep living there. I didn’t like it, but I did want her to be happy, and she had never had a guy be that interested in her before.
So this guy suddenly living off us was bad enough, but then the creep starts getting so possessive that things start getting weird. Like he won’t “let” her wear pants because other guys can see the outline of her crotch. She’s not “allowed” to go anywhere without him; he walks her to and from all her classes. She stops seeing all of the friends she made during her first year at U of D. She confides that he likes to force her head under the bed covers and fart in her face (she thinks it’s “cute”). He makes her call her parents and ask for money so he can buy drugs. He talks her into getting her parents to buy a car because he’s tired of walking her to her classes. He wants a color TV and orders her to buy one.
When I tried to talk to her about why she’s allowing this behavior, she rushes to his defense. We’re talking about a girl who, up to this point, was a die-hard feminist. Suddenly, it’s as if she’s been brainwashed and turned into someone I have never met before. This girl was my bestest witch and girl friend up to this point, and suddenly it’s as she’s this pod person, under his complete control.
So I’m stressing out because I don’t understand what is happening to my friend, and this guy is just getting more wired, weirder and more demanding every day, and now his junkie friends are starting to show up and camp out. Cops are knocking on the door and asking questions I can’t answer. Whenever I say anything, he freaks out and Lorna ends up ragging on me like I’m the problem.
I don’t remember now what I did on Thanksgiving, but I will never forget what I did for Christmas break. Lorna and I had plans to go home to Rhode Island together and, as far as I knew, those plans hadn’t changed. Imagine my profound shock when I woke up the first day of the break to find both of them gone; no note of explanation, but clear evidence that they’d packed up and taken off. There I was, stranded; alone with no money and no way to get anywhere. Not the local tavern, not the local coffee shop, and especially not home.
The apartment complex was completely deserted, really spooky with no people around since EVERYONE booked as soon as classes ended. Those apartments were trashy looking when they looked their best, and in the cold gray December light, devoid of life, they looked ghastly.
I had no decorations, no tree, no cards, no wreath, no lights, no candles, no bows, no presents, no radio, no holiday music. I didn’t even have a TV because they took it with them! I never understood the reasoning behind that; it was just pure meanness. They took what little food had been in the house. They did leave a box of soda crackers and my stereo system.
I recall that I had a series of severe panic attacks, my first panic attacks ever. They were horribly frightening. Railroad tracks ran parallel to the back of the apartment building, only about 40 feet away, and when the trains passed in the night, hundreds of sparks flew off the rails. I sat up every night the first few nights watching the trains go by and the sparks fly. About 80 feet past the right corner of the building, a small bridge spanned the tracks and I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I would jump. Lorna’s personality change and final betrayal were finally just too much.
The morning of the fifth day, after being up all night and fighting the temptation to end it all, I realized that I didn’t want to jump. Not at all. I knew that what I really wanted to do was throw that bastard, Lucky, off that damn bridge. Right in front of a “fucking” freight train. That’s what I really wanted.
I got up, took a shower, and went outside for a walk.
I stopped in the English Department, where I had a job as a Research Assistant when school was in session, and scanned their bulletin board. I found an ad for a vacancy in a rooming house close to campus. I took down the phone number and brought it home. I talked the woman who owned the house into letting me have the room without paying any rent or deposit, assuring her she’d get her money on the first payday after classes resumed, and I moved in the next day.
So I was packed up and gone, with no note or explanation, when Lorna and Fucking Lucky got home. I never talked to her again. I lost a good friend and my bestest witch. According to mutual friends, she never recovered from her association with Fucking Lucky. I almost didn’t; thank the Gods my good sense kicked in.
Those were probably the worst 5 days of my life (that weren’t illness related), so far. I was only 20 years old. If I’d been as mean as they were, I’d have spent those 5 days talking long-distance to anyone and everyone I could think of, and left them with the phone bill. But it never even occurred to me to do such a thing. I couldn’t “afford” to talk to anyone long distance, so I never even picked up the phone. Pretty dumb, huh?