There are weeks when pandemic life gets me down, lower than America’s current character. Days when I have to remind myself that I can’t sleep all day and nights I succumb to alertness while the hours crawl by and I scratch my head and worry about how much I scratch my head.
At 3 a.m, my mind veers into absurdity, like I start to wonder if maybe I brought this pandemic on. I suspect this illogical logic stems from my Catholicism and won’t go away no matter how hard I distance myself from my religion.
See, when something bad happens, I think of what I may have done to cause it. I’m incapable of dishonestly calling out from work sick because I believe that deceit will make me sick. At church as a kid, I’d spend the whole time fantasizing about making out with cute boys and I’d shake it out of my head — sure God could hear and I’d be forever doomed. A few minutes would go by and I’d be right back to thinking about boys and Cyndi Lauper.
So, I think I caused the plague. I’m also a self-diagnosed narcissist so everything relates back to me and my formative years, but I’ve done some lousy things and perhaps my juvenile delinquency started the plague.
A Fake Teenage Elopement
I was a mildly screwed up kid. I wanted to be much more screwed up than I actually was, but I tried damn hard. All my idols were troubled, and I craved excitement and drama. But acting out in a small town becomes redundant after a while. How many times can you smoke cigarettes in the girl’s bathroom, or go to the high school dance after having a few nips? How many games of Truth or Dare can a young girl initiate? One must get creative.
Afraid that my wanna-be groupie lifestyle and poor grades just weren’t cutting it to define my bad assery, my high school love with the chiseled cheekbones and I concocted an eff you to the world: We ran away and left a letter to our caring parents stating that we were eloping.
As a lifelong lover of letter writing, I think back on that stark letter, written on a haphazardly ripped out piece of paper: “Mom, I eloped. Kathy.” That was it. Nothing fancy and right to the gut.
The zeal of such defiance was intoxicating. Or maybe we were just intoxicated. Anyway, we didn’t get married and we had never planned on doing so. We wanted to piss people off and well, it worked. My boyfriend’s parents placed a missing person’s report while he and I traversed all around South County, Rhode Island for two days.
After a few days without a shower, I calmly walked back home and yelled ,”I’m back.” I don’t recall actually getting in trouble, but my goal was met: I created excitement and messed shite up.
I once had an Aunt Mary whom I would visit monthly. She was old, frail and as nice as a curmudgeon could be. She lived in a small condominium and every visit came with a penmanship lesson and a little money in my stonewashed jean’s pocket.
Good ol’ Aunt Mary gave me money to take out her minimum amount of trash that only contained crushed and cleaned TV dinner boxes. I suppose she was green before her time.
Aunt Mary’s home was tidy and filled with creepy religious pictures and crosses. She’d watch Mass on the television and I got a kick out of that. One day as I snooped through her place, I saw a Jesus cross affixed to the wall that I just had to have. After looking both ways, as all good thieves do, I swiped it right off the wall. Accomplished, I fingered it in my pocket for the rest of the visit and all the way home, happy with my forbidden treasure.
Not long after arriving home, the one home phone rang and it was ol’ Aunt Mary concerned about her missing artifact. Could I have taken it? I denied it for as long as I could but eventually, I had to fess up and apologize. I had grabbed it right off the wall and left a tear where it had been.
My cousins and I spent most summers hanging around Rhode Island beating each other up, comparing sunburns, getting lost at state beaches, stealing cigarettes from the adults, and crabbing. I could spend hours collecting crabs but my cousin was petrified of them and I would absolutely torment him with crabs.
One night we had a bonfire and I fed the fire a bucket of crabs. Directly into the fire, I dumped live crabs while giggling over the sounds that escaped the crabs as they were burned alive. I was young and…evil? I’m not sure but I do remember my more sensitive cousin battling insomnia for a lot of that summer and mentioning that when he closed his eyes he could still hear the squeaking sound of those dying crabs.
I think it’s entirely possible that I created the plague by being such a bad child and I’m really sorry. I will find a way to make amends and if you have any ideas, send them my way!