I Just Don't Want To Remember
They say you can never go home. I used to think that was true. I thought, like most people, that after leaving I would never come back. But I, like most people, was wrong. I guess everyone always goes home at least once. And if they don't, they really should. Maybe not to stay. Maybe just for a quick visit to see if it's still the same and reminisce of the days that shaped us into who we eventually became. But eventually, we all need to go home. And as much as I don't want to be, that's where I am now. Home.
The neighborhood hasn't changed much. I can still see the window looking into my old bedroom from the backyard. The same window I had snuck in and out of so many times before. The tire swing I used to play in still hangs from the old Maple that I had used as a ladder to and from my window. The trusty old tree house still stood next door. All the houses in the neighborhood look the same as the day I left, even if it was over eight years ago. But the physical appearance isn't what has me captivated. It's how strong the memories are now that I'm here, sitting in the old tire swinging on the fraying rope, listening to the creaking as I slowly sway, the spring breeze blowing my hair into my face. I grip the edges of the box tightly, my knuckles turning white. This box holds memories of my old life, my life as Trista Spencer; my father's old records, my mother's jewelry, the old photo albums. I can't bring myself up to flip through the pages of the albums. I don't want to see it. All the faces that I'll never be able to see again. And I don't need the pictures to remember anything right now, I can almost see everything play in my mind again, like a movie, just like it all happened yesterday; the voices, the laughter, the screams. All the things I had worked so hard to forget about and put behind me are now creeping back up on me. But I guess it's good to face these demons before I go back to the place I now call home.
He's standing behind me. I can feel him. Just watching me. Waiting nervously until I'm ready to leave. I know it's hard for him to be back. To be so close to everything he prays to forget every night. I told him he didn't have to come but he did anyway. He wants to face the demons too. Because after today, we have no reason to come back. We'll be free from everything but the memories.
It was the summer of 1996, right before the start of my senior year of high school that changed my life forever. But before I get into that I guess I should start earlier than that.
I was born and raised in a small Maryland town not too far from D.C. The city was divided into two sections, the extravagant half where all the well off people lived. Then there was the other section, the one where I lived. It wasn't anything impressive. Everyone there had just enough to get by, most of the time. I lived next door to the Pine's; well, I guess I should call it the Combs house now, even if it is boarded up. My mother had been best friends with Mrs. Pine since grade school.
I was born March 4, 1979, exactly a week before the Pine's identical twin sons, Davis and Dean. They both had dark brown hair chocolate brown eyes and they used to have permanent smiles on their faces. I was once so carelessly happy like that. I had inherited my mother's straight, long, thick, pale ash blonde hair and my father's big mahogany eyes and tall height. I had grown up to be quite beautiful, full pouty lips, glossy hair (even if it was frequently dyed), soft but sexy features and a nice frame, though I hardly noticed anymore. Looks were never that important to me.
Our family photo albums are littered with the three of us kids bathing together, playing in the old tire swing, and putting on plays for our neighbors. The twins older brother Luke had been around until he decided he was too cool to hang out with us younger kids and went out with friends his own age. Their younger sister Sarah was the same age as my sister Megan so our families always seemed to be together. Like we were just one big, not quite happy, family.
For the longest time it was just the three of us: Davis, Dean and me, Trista Spencer. We knew everything there was to know about each other. We were more than just friends, we were family. I remember Dean holding me while I cried after Luke ripped the head off of my teddy bear, Charlotte, when we were four. Dean had been my first kiss. The three of us were playing in my backyard in the old tire swing from the old Maple when we were five and I just marched right up to him and kissed him. Davis teased us about it for years. Dean was so mad at me he didn't talk to me for four days. And the only way I got him to talk to me again was to agree to kiss Davis too, so I had. When we were six I was the one that called an ambulance when Davis fell out of the Maple, got a concussion and broke his right leg. The following day he was released from the hospital and we all decorated the cast for him. Plastering it with pictures and our favorite song lyrics, half of which were probably wrong. I remember the first girl Davis asked out in the school yard in fifth grade, Corrie Elwood, turned him down in front of her group of friends along with several nasty words. When he ran off, holding back the tears, I punched her. Sure I got in trouble, but it was worth it. Later on that year we all shared one of my dad's cigarettes and we've been smoking on and off ever since, never getting caught once. Sixth grade they both helped me dye my hair a dark brown. My father grounded me for two weeks and took me to a salon to get it dyed back to its natural color. But it never was the same color after that; it was always more of a darker, a golden honey, blonde. My retaliation for his dictatorship was to cut my hair myself. It had been down to my mid-back, I grabbed a pair of scissors from the drawer the next morning before anyone had woken up and cut. It looked terrible, choppy, uneven and fell just below my ears. I was satisfied. Everyone had nearly had a heart attack when they had seen. After that my father had let me do whatever I want. There were no more trips back to the salon to fix anything. He and my mother both knew there was no way to control me anymore. In seventh grade when Bobbie Hart broke up with me, they both showed up at my front door as soon as I told them with a pint of vanilla ice cream and threw me a pity party better than any girl friend would have. And eighth grade they cried with me at my grandfather's funeral.
But when we hit high school things started to change. They started to see me as a woman instead of just one of the guys, but it didn't stop us from being best friends. My hair had grown back, dyed the same pale ash blonde I was born with. Davis had kept his hair almost completely shaved and put on some weight, until sophomore year in high school he started to thin out again. While Dean stayed himself, just an average build guy with a cute messy mass of dark hair. Sometimes it was hard to tell that they were twins. But we didn't just change physically. Things started to feel different. Not just like we had passed a big milestone and made it to high school, things just didn't feel the same anymore. There was a lot of mystery to life then. But I just shrugged it off and went on with my life. No use dwelling on things was there?
There was a party to go to every weekend, and we made our own every weekday. We were always sneaking out and around. I don't know if it was because we always had to or if it just made things more fun and exciting that way. Davis always was the wildest. The three of us went to the same parties, Dean and I drank and smoked as much as Davis did. Did the same drugs. Or at least we thought so. He always did disappear after the first hour of a party only to reappear before dawn the next day back in his own bed. He never really told us what he had been doing, but we had a pretty good idea. Dean and me still managed to have fun though. It was different without Davis always there, but who were we to stop him from having his fun? And we could have just as good of a time without him. But sometimes it was more of just routine, more of just going through the motions than actually having fun. I guess I should have known more of what was going on. Maybe on some level I did, I was just too stupid to admit it. I didn't want to have to know about it. I didn't want to have to deal with it. I wanted to keep on partying and having a good time. I didn't want anything to bring me down, even if I already was.
None of us were particularly good in school. We weren't stupid or anything. We just didn't care. There was so much more to life than paying attention in class, doing homework, studying and getting good grades. There were parties to go to, alcohol to be consumed, drugs to be taken. It's not like we were bad kids. Just caused minor mischief, maybe sometimes a little more. But that didn't make us bad kids. We were average teenagers leading average teenage lives, full of experimentation and rebellion. And school just didn't seem too important at the time. Looking back, it still doesn't. Maybe I'll never mature. But I like it that way. Life is so much more fun. Don't look back. Never regret anything. Just let life happen and go with it. No matter how hard it may be to do.
My sister Meg seemed to be the exact opposite of me. She was the perfect model for an adolescent, I guess that's why she was always the favorite. She fit the mold. I tried to break it. She was popular, smart, great in school and she didn't even have to try. She was a goodie-goodie but very naive and seemed to be happy with her rose colored glasses. She didn't want any of my knowledge on the world or any of my jaded cynicism. She didn't know a fraction of what was really going on in the world, even what was going on with me and we lived in the same house with one thin wall separating us.
My mother was a secretary at a local business office and my father was unemployed. He lost his job when the company went bankrupt. But we didn't tell people that. My family always was too worried about appearances to admit it. He did odd jobs around the neighborhood. My mother kept telling people that he simply wanted some time off to pursue other interests, like his hobbies of carpentry and gardening. My father never had an interest in either; we just needed the extra money to buy food and try to make a house payment. But the bills kept coming and the debts kept getting bigger. And the widow across the street, Old Lady Figgs, only had so much work for him to do. No one else offered him and jobs. Everyone around there was having financial difficulties too, especially the Pine's, and everyone was too damn proud to admit it. And it's not any different now. It doesn't matter where I go, I see the same thing. People with too much pride to be able to ask for help when they need it. Too ashamed of what they are.
I waitressed at the neighborhood restaurant in my spare time. The pay was shit, but the tips were usually pretty decent. My paychecks and tip money went to pay the electric bill, water bill, house payment, whatever bill needed to be paid at the moment. Megan babysat for all the local kids, of course she didn't get paid much, no one had much to pay, but she got to keep all her money, well, the little she had been able to save. She always needed to buy that trendy new name brand shirt or that cute new pair of shoes and she never seemed to have enough of her own money for it so our mother always paid for half. I always had to pay for my own things. Not that I ever bought my own things, my checks were going to help support the family.
But things have changed since then. I'm no longer that girl anymore. But isn't that supposed to happen to everyone? We all grow up and change. It's a nice theory, but I don't believe it. I've known too many people incapable of changing. Sadly they never make it very far. But I welcome change at every change I get. You need to if you want to survive. You need to change just like to need to go home.