Confronting Demons

For 22 years, Tampa has been associated with one person, Bill.

He moved to Tampa for a job after he graduated from law school. He broke my heart in the process.

I had to go to Tampa for the photo job a couple of weeks ago. I spent 4 days there.

I was in no way tempted to get in touch with the douche bag, but I did think of him.

Mostly, I thought about how incomprehensible it was that he would have thought it was okay to engage with an 18 year old, at his age.

I was still friends with him when he was 42, which is the age I am now. It disgusts me to think about the idea of a role reversal, in which I am “friends” with intimate knowledge of someone so much younger than me. I cannot fathom it.

I was thinking about a human sexuality class I took at Georgia State earlier this week, about a visceral reaction I had to watching a video of female circumcision in some sort of tribe in Africa, as part of a regular ritual they do there. I literally got nauseated and had to go lay down on the bathroom floor of General Classroom Building, which says a lot about my emotional/ physical state. If you know that building, you know that bathroom is not among the cleaner, less traffic places. I had never had a reaction like that to gross or scary stuff, but for some reason that really got to me.

I had no idea that my body was reacting to the untreated sexual trauma of rape at the time. My body knew things my mind did not. Two rapes at the time, actually– one week apart. First Bill, then Steve. Bill was an opportunitist, Steve was angry. I was vulnerable and near broken emotionally and psychically.

At any rate, I got through the Tampa trip unscathed emotionally. I reiterated to myself multiple times the fact that I know Bill is incapable of relationships like I have in my life, that he doesn’t have the rich personal life that I have. He lost me as a friend long ago and I have zero interest in ever knowing him again. I don’t want anything from him– an apology would be nice, but I know it will never come.

I made new connotations with Tampa: it is the home of Planet Grilled Cheese, where you can get a mozzarella melt, mozzarella sticks grilled into a grilled cheese sandwich. An absolute heart attack waiting to happen. They have excellent fries as well, which compounds the heart attack factor.

Someday, I want to go to Florida on vacation, just me and J. I’ve avoided Florida for 20 years now, and I know I don’t have to avoid it anymore.


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