Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For Michelle and Another October Passed

Tomorrow marks the start of November, the day of the dead, and the end of October. Six years ago I spent most of this month on my knees, pushing all air from my lungs, feeling the empty heat in my core until the next wave of sobs shook me. Snot and tears lubricated my passage of one day to the next.

In the beginning of the month my friend Michelle had gone missing. It seemed impossible that my forever friend, a woman with soft brown eyes you could swim in, an easy smile, and a laugh that pulled her shoulders up and down, a woman who I shared late night beers with as I passed through Virginia one soggy evening just months before, would  take off from her new home in Vermont without notice. Even harder to believe for a woman like me,  steeped in idealism and nativity like a thrice used tea bag, was that someone would take her.

Hikers found Michelle lifeless and brutalized a week after her disappearance  I poured over the details of the police  affidavit: the scratches, the hematomas, the traces of DNA and semen. I dreamt nightly that I was there with her.

These images rub me raw, not only because of their graphic and violent nature, but because they cloud my memories of a friend who picked me up by my guts to hear me fart and died laughing when the lemonade we drank mixed with our laughter and came shooting out of my nose.  She was the first friend I shared the darker parts of my life with and she allowed me into the shadowy sides of her own.

When we were in first grade we sat between two raspberry bushes and Michelle explained marine biology to me, her chosen profession at that time. We explored the first thrills of hanging out with boys at a Pizza Hut lit by greasy yellow lamps that hung over maroon booths and dialed inappropriate 1-800 numbers on the pay phone next to the door.

 Late at night on the pull out couch in your parents shadowy basement under a laminated copy of the constitution you'd hold my hands before we fell asleep. You'd tell me corny jokes like your dad's. Every time I eat dates, especially with peanut butter, I think of your mom, so dedicated to your success, and your snorting pug Fonsu running in tight circles around your living room. Even thought that beer was long overdue it was like nothing between us had changed--that we would continue along on separate paths and still find eachother endlessly interesting and entertaining in the years to come.

I think of you still. I know we all do. I bring you with me to snowy outcroppings to watch the alpenglow. I keep you by my side while I'm hitching a ride. And in the quiets of October I can still hear you bouncing your shoulders and laughing.

The scars on my wounded heart threaten to gush open when such a tender and emotionally wrought topic like rape is so cavalierly part of the political conversation. I feel incapable of speaking intelligibly. Waves of emotion wait in the wings readied to flood and drown all those in close proximity. I can't even begin to comprehend such small minded statements from men who seemingly know so little about violation and the sanctity of life.

1 comment:

  1. Marian. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your rawness and honesty is inspiring. Thank you for sharing Michelle's story, for not hiding her away just because of what happened to her. Thank you for reminding us that it is good to be aware. Thank you for this much needed reality check.