I’ve been reading a book by Mary-Louise Parker called Dear Mr. You. It’s an epistolary-style memoir with a series of letters directed toward people in Parker’s life that have influenced, inspired, or simply pissed her off in some form or fashion. I’m thoroughly enjoying the concept and her style of writing—especially liking the idea of displaying gratitude, regrets, and even gaining some closure. Things we all experience and appreciate. And because I like it so much, I’ve started writing down a list of people I’d like to write a letter to, but not send. The notion is rather therapeutic, which I feel is the idea anyway. It will get all these things out of my head that are just sitting around in my memory palace—cluttering the rooms and making me step over them constantly.
There is one lady I would write to for sure. Once explained, I will sound crazy and there won’t be taking it back. However, her behavior twenty-two years ago still affects me today. Isn’t it insane to let someone, a stranger, get to you for so long? I’m not saying this is on a daily basis, but when the memory is triggered, I feel the same as I did back then. I’ll explain.
My friend and I decided to get rid of clutter in our homes and have a collective garage sale. Neither of us had a yard, much less a garage to hold said sale. We joined forces with my friend’s coworker who not only had a garage, but a large yard in a great neighborhood. Each of us had our own little section of the property to sell our loot and the buyers came in herds. It was madness and I felt overwhelmed from the beginning. We had garage sales growing up, but I was never in charge or handled the money. It’s kind of awkward exchanging money with people for things you don’t want in your life anymore, but they have to have. On the flip side, it makes me feel self-conscious when nothing is purchased, like you’re somehow judged on your goods.
Anyway, in steps a Cuban lady (this is Miami, by the way) who decides to buy my shower curtain and rings, among a few other things. She proceeds to start negotiations—all her offers were significantly lower than I had the items labeled. I think she felt that the quantity of items should be rewarded with the price of just one item. We went back and forth with me saying no and her persisting. She even resorted to disparaging the items I was selling with erroneous claims. She was a bully. It wasn’t as if I was ready to call it quits after a long day—we had just started! I have to hand it to her though, she kept at it, getting louder and more pushy until she finally broke me.
What still gets me to this day was my inability to flatly say no and walk away. That I let her push me, control my emotions, and make me feel weak in those few minutes. Do I blame her for my faults? No. I want to thank her for making me feel that way to help me succeed in any future dealings I encountered. I want to thank her for being so utterly obnoxious that I know how to handle someone who behaves the same way.
I know it’s ridiculous to hold onto this memory and let it affect me—but, I told you it would sound insane. We all have little triggers that take us back in time, affecting us emotionally—good or bad. If I verbally told anyone about this woman I no doubt will hear, “Are you kidding me? Get over it.” They would be right, and I am over it—mostly.
So, that’s my thought process while reading Dear Mr. You–write letters to people, both significant and inconsequential. My list has about ten people on it already, and grew by one while writing this post. It was my photography teacher in high school. I need to apologize for forging his name on a tardy slip. I was rather rude when he kindly asked me about it, as if it was his fault. The expression on his face when I snapped at him still haunts me.
See? This is the kind of shit still cluttering up my brain and it needs to be filed away—never to be thought of again.