The best laid schemes of mice and men,
Go often askew
~ Robert Burns in, To A Mouse ~
Ah, yes! That moment when a perfect plan collides with an imperfect world. When the perfectionist clashes with reality. Such was the end result of the would-be-perfect dinner, in the classy restaurant, with my then-presumed-soon-to-be-fiancée.
Expectations ran high. For both of us. This was, no doubt, to be the best night of our lives so far. He wanted to surprise me. I pretended I hadn’t a clue. None. I would give him the thrill of an ‘off-guard’ proposal, since that seemed so important to him.
As we pulled up to the restaurant I could see the disappointment on his face. It was a family restaurant. He expressed his disappointment. “Maybe it’s nicer inside,” he said sceptically. It wasn’t. Families everywhere. Children. Loud. Ordinary. Every day stuff. That’s what it was. And there wasn’t an elegant corner to be found.
The hostess seated us at a table off to the side, near the door. The food, when it arrived, was mediocre. Maybe three star, if we had been feeling generous. We were clearly over-dressed for the environment.
I didn’t mind. Life is real. Life is unpredictable. And hard. Very hard, sometimes. I was in the process of learning that first hand in my journey. But he was beating himself up. Hadn’t done his homework. Should have personally visited it beforehand. Disappointment stole his evening. He withdrew and nothing I said comforted him.
We ate dinner in relative silence, both exhausted from a day of skiing. His melancholy mood was not going to lift any time soon.
Our drive back to his house was no better. More silence. We pulled into the garage. The door went down. The engine shut off. Still silence. He made no move. I waited, tempted to blurt out that I knew what his intentions had been and understood why he was frustrated. But I bit my tongue.
Eventually he said we should go in, and with that he jumped out of the car. He walked to my side, opened the door for me and together we walked toward the house in silence.
The rest of my time in Pennsylvania was strained. Not pleasant. The awkwardness of the perfect plan going completely wrong seemed to be an insurmountable problem. I returned to Ontario, questioning our relationship. How could something like that come between us? How much power did perfection have in his life? I started to question my ability to live up to that. I knew who I was. Broken. Scattered. Easily distracted. Creative and, well, sometimes messy. Not just making messes, but ‘messy’ in the ‘life stuff’.
How would he cope, long-term with my story? What if the way he reacted when I first told him about the abuse was going to be normal life? Having first violated our promise to wait to kiss, and having done so quite forcefully, he further broke my trust on that trip.
When I mentioned that I had brought the teddy bear Howard, the new ‘Dad’ in my life, had given me for Christmas, he had said, with disdain, “Trudy, he’s a married man!” as if to say I had an inappropriate attraction or relationship with him. I was deeply hurt. Offended. Who did he think I was? If I refused to kiss him or be intimate with him, why would I go there with someone else? I finally had a ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ speaking into my life, and he was perverting it.
Trust unravelled and quickly. We didn’t see each other often after that. I went to Heritage Bible School in Hartwell Georgia, the end of January and into February, where he paid me a visit in early February. It was strained. No depth. Soon after, he got several speeding tickets and lost his license for a few weeks.
The last week in February he drove to Ontario with a friend, to pick me up, and take me to Pennsylvania for a week. The details are blurry, because of all that took place in the next twenty-four hours. But the friend, accompanied by his girlfriend, did the driving, since he didn’t have his license yet, and couldn’t help drive. He assured me his license was reinstated in Pennsylvania and, once there, he would drive again.
The trip was uneventful until we arrived in Pennsylvania. Shortly after we dropped off the other couple, at a bit before 4:00am, I was tossed into one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
We pulled up to a light. Across from us a police cruiser waited. We turned. He followed, This triggered full blown panic in my then-boyfriend. He drove a short distance and then suddenly stepped on the gas. Cruiser lights went on, triggering further panic. And almost instantly we were travelling at what seemed like lightening speed.
I asked him what in the world he was trying to do. If he had a license, what was he afraid of? He had done nothing wrong. At least not before stepping on the gas like that.
He explained that his license had not yet been returned and, in fact, he had another short suspension coming up soon. They say the devil is in the details. Seems a ring of truth in that. Technically his suspension was over, with a second one coming up sometime, but he didn’t have a license on him and, much as he had convinced me that wasn’t a big deal, clearly it was.
I tried to convince him to pull over and explain to the officer, confident that it would all be a big misunderstanding. But he would hear none of it.
He turned down a back road and booked it. He would get away. He turned the lights off, travelling only by moonlight, in the middle of the night. Terror. Sheer terror. I begged him to stop, now crying in fear.
“Relax! I know this road,” he said, as if I was completely overreacting.
“What if you miss a curve and we hit a hydro pole?” I asked.
“Trust me. I know this road.”
No sooner had he spoken the words, before we lurched forward, in the same instant we heard and felt a terrible thud under the car, as he flew through a ditch, losing complete control of the vehicle. A bumpy ride alerted us that we were no longer on the beaten path. Apparently he didn’t know the road quite as well in the dark.
The thuds and bumps continued for what seemed an eternity. Paralysing fear took hold of my heart. What if we die…
To Be Continued….
© Trudy Metzger
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