When I was 13 or 14 I threw myself from a moving vehicle. I wasn't trying to hurt myself; didn't even really consider that I could hurt myself. I just couldn't stand to be near my mother for one more second. And so. Rather calmly. With even breaths. I opened the door. And stepped outside.
We were in the parking lot of our super-sized apartment complex and not going that fast. But I mostly landed on my head, and it turns out that high speeds are not required to crack open your melon. I slid down the hill on the back of my skull, and came to rest in what must've looked like a failed attempt at a backwards somersault. The world tuned upside down, I watched my mother's car drive away. Two women stood gaping at me from the sidewalk.
Beginning to feel a little foolish lying in the middle of the road like that, I jumped up and sprinted down the walkway to our apartment, holding my scalp together so my brain wouldn't fall out. It hadn't occurred to me to grab my house key before performing my dramatic exit from the car, so I had to wait for my mom to park and gather the groceries before I was permitted inside the house. This only made me more furious.
The next thing I remember is waking up from a daze on the couch to see my mom and her boyfriend starting at me through a very uncomfortable silence from the other side of the living room. I'm pretty sure it was my turn to speak, but I had no idea what question I'd been asked. So I declared myself unharmed and wandered off to the bathroom to tend to more important questions: what, exactly, had the pavement done to my hair?
The boyfriend eventually convinced my mom that a trip to the emergency room was probably in order.
After explaining the circumstances to countless doctors and nurses while they plucked chunks of asphalt from my scalp, my mother was asked to leave the room. A new doctor came in, this one with kinder eyes and a gentler touch on my throbbing head. After a quick review of his colleagues' handiwork he sat on the stool across from me. He said nothing at first, just looked at me intently. I was pretty sure he had a good idea of what I was thinking, and instantly I liked him. Satisfied with something, he gave a little nod and asked me what happened. And then he asked why. Hello, psyche evaluation. After quite a bit of talking, he offered me a bed in the cheery suicide-watch wing, but told me I was free to go home if I chose - so long as I promised him that I would never again exit a vehicle before the ride came to a complete stop.
Right hand raised, I made my promise.
Last month while driving from Austin to Dallas, The Man and I got into an argument. It was a heated one, and eventually I needed to not be sitting next to him anymore. My hand was on the door handle and I had the same urge to just open the door and leave. I let the idea meander its way around my scarred skull for a moment before I settled on an alternate option. I screamed an order to let me out of the car. The Man slammed on the breaks and veered onto the shoulder. And I waited. Rather calmly now. With even breaths. For the ride to come to a complete stop.
I never did get out of the car. The struggle to put on my shoes gave me adequate time to wonder what in hell I thought standing on the side of the freeway was going to solve. Instead, I turned to The Man and we talked and made up and drove back to Dallas to get some Thai food, which was delicious.
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