The moment you realize it affects you, even when you say that you don’t care. It’s called vulnerability. It slips in unnoticed, unbeknownst to your conscious, and ruins your fucking life.
She yelled, “Harriet Tubman!” as she walked out the door. This was becoming a common occurrence after sex, but when it started replacing hello and goodbye I should have known better. I met her in AA, which was my first mistake. I took her home before the dinner, which was the second. It’s safe to say Rachel and I were off to a bad start.
As weeks went by we started staying at each other’s apartments. Slowly I realized there was something a little bit off about her, as if shouting the names of prominent black women was something I’ve seen my mother do. It was the little things. The way she held her toothbrush-- with both hands. The way she would sing death metal in the shower. Her refusal to own a computer. These were the little quirks I’d come to love, but I still didn’t know why, or if I should. Was this normal behavior?
As I got older I realized normal is relative. Love isn’t normal. Human beings aren’t meant to be monogamous. So although her quirks would seem odd to some, I loved her and therefore didn’t care. Hearing her scream Harriet Tubman as she walked in the doorway was the best part of my day. Those words kept me from drinking. And for that I loved Harriet Tubman as much I loved Rachel. Sometimes it felt like cheating. Sometimes I wondered if I was normal.
Living with a crazy person does funny things to you. You start rationalizing the warning signs.
“Don’t touch my fucking toothpaste!”
She doesn’t like the squeeze bottles.
“If you make chicken ever again I will stab you with the end of that kitchen knife, drink a bottle of Vodka, and then sleep with your best friend. Do you want me to start drinking again?”
This was all normal Rachel behavior. Things she said on days ending with the letter Y. I was starting to believe she was all talk. I even pushed her buttons. Tried to egg on some emotional outburst knowing the sex immediately after would be the best we had in days. I’d say I drove her mad fifty percent of the time. I’d also say this wasn’t the first time I’ve driven a girl to madness. To lunacy.
But Rachel was different.
Rachel, if anything, was emotional.
She was a talker
So the day she came home and didn’t say a word I knew something was wrong. She didn’t even yell to the gods for the sake of Mrs. Tubman. She had blood on her dress and she didn’t make a sound. I found her on the corner of the bed looking at her outfit, confused as I entered the room.
“Baby, are you alright? What happened?”
“I think I did something wrong.”
I knew it then, I think. I was positively sure that this wasn’t normal behavior. She took off her dress and I could tell that the blood wasn’t hers. But I loved her. So I didn’t care. What did you do Rachel?
“Amelia Earhart!” - She yelled as she slipped on a robe.
That was a new one -- I thought right before she kissed me. Right before my vulnerability left and Rachel looked normal again. Right before she walked out of the bedroom with a stain of blood still squarely smeared at her side.
That was the moment of clarity.
That was the moment I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I loved a crazy woman. Certainly I can’t be the only one.