This video got me reminiscing, obviously not in a good way. Before I get into it, I encourage you to go read the comments posted at Feministing regarding the video. I think it’s an interesting step forward in the public conversation that needs to be had about about domestic violence. While it is striking to watch the scene unfold as told by the police report, why not go all the way in the name of accuracy and use black actors and fake blood? Seems to sit some sort of weird fence; speaking out against domestic violence yet not portraying it as violently as it happens. American teenagers consume an obscene amount of violence in movies and on TV along with an obscene amount of “reality” television (and I watch probably more than my fair share of both – no judgment from me on that), so why not a more real depiction of what they’re trying to depict? If Rihanna’s name and picture had never been actually published after the incident, I could see trying to preserve the shambles of her privacy even if most people assumed she was the victim, but at this point…why hold back?
Anyhow, to set the scene for my story: Athens, near the OU campus, some random apartment complex stupid enough to rent to a freshman (freshman were and probably are still required to live in – or at least pay for in some manner – a dorm room). My freshman year. Freshman is a weird word. Moving on!
Long story (hopefully) short, I thought I was too cool for a dorm. Or at least, why not have an option? Especially with an older boyfriend leftover from high school willing to follow me to middle-of-nowhere? (First clue – missed.) I had saved a few thousand dollars from my job in high school and had enough scholarship and best-dad-ever money to not be strapped for textbook cash, so I could get us started, and he would find a job and pay the most of the rent, right? Ah, isn’t being young and stupid fun? (Yes.) We played house for a quarter, thoroughly living “there’s a time and a place for everything, and that’s college.” You could probably write the rest of this story, or at least the next few sentences. No jobs in a college town, let alone any good ones for a dude with little education and not much else. We couldn’t pay all the bills, we fought about stupid shit and serious shit. Someday I’ll tell you a whole ‘nother ugly subplot involving…other things. All right, I’m stalling here, which won’t make this any better of a story.
Toward the end of January, my grandmother died. I felt horrid, because I had opted out of the last family Christmas, even though my dad had somehow presciently waved his finger at me that it might be my last chance to have Christmas with one or both of my fairly elderly grandparents. If it makes you feel any better, this part of the story is harder for me than the rest. Sigh. I was a shitty kid, more worried about my social life than actual important things. The one silver lining I have is that her birthday is in November, and though I of course didn’t actually know that, I happened to call her – which I rarely did unprompted by my dad – on that day. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t realize it was her birthday, but she was so tickled that I’d called. Fuck, I’m crying…and I just wrote fuck while writing about my grandma! Hold on while I get a freaking Kleenex.
Okay, better. I know most people probably think that their grandma was the sweetest, best-kind-of-cliche-grandma that ever was, but…she really, really was an angel. Just ask my sister. Anyway, she’d had a stroke, so all the family gathered and we technically got to say goodbye while she was still alive, but it’s certainly not that one last Christmas. Phew. Way off track here, sorry, but Grandma deserves at least a good tangent.
So again, you can probably see this coming. Either loser boyfriend actually had some job that wouldn’t let him off without losing said job, or I actually had enough sense to not bring such a person to my grandma’s funeral. Don’t remember, doesn’t matter. While I was not at school, loser boyfriend was chilling with my girlfriends from and living near the dorm. Aaaand, action. Girl actually confessed to me, I went off on him, on and on and on. At the time I thought I loved him, maybe I did. But I also think I was letting loose on him all my anger about life in general. My grandma had just died (whoa, I glossed right over how scummy that was – cheat on a girl while she goes to her grandmother’s funeral. Oh. No I didn’t.), my sister was dealing with serious shit of her own that I had let make me feel like a lousy sister with only the wrong answers, I was not doing as well academically as I knew I should be, I was already stuck with bills I couldn’t pay that I incurred to what I thought was his benefit, I was pissed. I smacked him across the face. Fuck yeah, I did. I don’t regret that one, though I probably should. The next dozen were overkill. I don’t know why he didn’t just restrain me, I guess he kind of felt like he deserved it. But eventually he smacked me back. Just once, but it rang my bell. Like, my ears were ringing. I assume it was a slap upside the head, but I couldn’t really say if it was an open or closed fist, and it really doesn’t matter.
I walked out. I don’t remember if we had been drinking at all that night or not. I wasn’t drunk, but I was really upset. I took off walking toward campus, it was dark…I walked quite a ways and then just said fuck it again. I walked back and told him to leave. Lease was in my name, I’m sure someone heard us yelling, want me to call the cops? He left, but the next day I went back to my dorm room.
I wish I could say that I never spoke to or saw him again after that, but I can’t. I remember sitting in my dorm room, wondering if I should tell my roommate. She was and still is a very cool woman that I respect, but I didn’t want to tell her though I didn’t quite know why. I was just being cranky and bitchy instead, and she was annoyed that all of a sudden the roommate she thought had all but moved out was back. Totally understandable. I ended up telling her after some version of ‘okay, so what the hell is really wrong with you?’ and while I can’t remember her exact reaction, I know I felt stupid. Not that she thought I deserved it, though I may have after hitting him multiple times, but that she would think I was stupid if I went back to him. I knew that it would be a stupid thing to do, but I did have other things to consider. I had to get out of that lease. I had to pay off bills that were in my name, and I didn’t have a job. I had to get my shit out of that apartment. I had to not fail chemistry! To say the least, I was distracted.
I don’t know if we really ever got back together, but I did see him again. I muddled through school as best I could, did plenty of self-medication, and eventually realized and told my parents that I wanted to come home, though I didn’t go into any real detail. I was a little surprised when my mom offered to come get me RIGHT NOW; I didn’t want to just give up on that school. I had avoided the hometown university at all costs because it seemed like the easy way out. The easy way out was what I needed right then. I finished up the quarter, withdrew in good academic standing, and went home. The loose ends worked themselves out without too much damage.
I don’t know how to bring this back around to Rihanna or the way that she was mistreated by the media. I’m just going to click Publish.