I took off Sunday morning on my motorcycle, trying to shake off the effects of some really powerful emotional stuff that happened on Saturday (no worries, it’s just life with PTSD. You remember what I said about that before, right?). I went for a spin through the old stomping grounds of my oh-so-fun youth: all the schools, past my first job, first girlfriend’s house, high school best friend’s house…all of the evocative places. A two hundred mile, five hour journey. My tailbone complained shrilly when I got home.
Of them all, junior high was the most emotionally-charged one. I’m sure, when they review the security footage, they’ll think it odd that someone on a motorcycle sat in the rear lot, looking out over the ball fields and the back half of the building, crying.
Ninth grade was the only year of my schooling I can say without reservation that I loved. The rest are pretty much a twelve-way tie for total suck. But in ninth grade, I had friends. I had a little bit of social cache. I even had a minor degree of tolerance for my antics from the captain of the cheerleaders.
And, of course, I had my music.
I had this silly thing where I brought my cassettes with me in my backpack and would set one on the corner of my desk, largely to indicate my mood that day. It was 1986, and the covers that graced my desk were Vic Rattlehead on Megadeth’s Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, the mecha monster on Judas Priest’s Defenders Of The Faith, the graveyard of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets, and the tragedy/comedy masks of Motley Crue’s Theatre Of Pain.
Sitting in that parking lot, thinking back on those times…it was powerful. I don’t regret a moment of it. But I wonder what I might have been like had I understood more about myself. Would I have been less prone to sticking my foot in my mouth if I had known what PTSD was? Would I have tried to be more outgoing and join after-school activities?
Somehow, I doubt it would have made any meaningful difference. It hasn’t changed my approach to life since learning about it, so I can’t see why it would have made any difference then. Maybe something to whine about.
The trip was an important one, though; aside from the feelgoods at the junior high. The rest of the things I revisited were stark reminders of a past I want nothing to do with. I mean, we can’t just erase it, but I just got a good kick in the pants as to why I don’t speak to anyone from the 600-odd people who I graduated with, why I don’t visit those places anymore. And why moving on is important.