They say that context matters.

Perhaps this is why every time I walk into that room I have to pause, remember to breathe. Imagine myself somewhere else. Somewhere without your voice, your face, your hands around my neck.

Of course I was self-destructive. I do not need encoding principles to remember that I chose him, at least in part, for his darkness. I couldn't have known how dark things would get, just then, sitting on a failing picnic table outside the pool hall he had always haunted. He had the darkest eyes I had ever seen and he smoked cheap cigarettes. I had always found the habit highly objectionble, but it went with the leather jacket and the worn old boots and he made it look sexy.

He had the kind of life you read about in the news sometimes, the kind that leaves a sick feeling in your heart because other human beings are supposed to nurture their children not mind fuck them until they break. One of those. Except no one had come to save him, not in time, anyway. Someone to help me drown. I could not handle my own light then. I couldn't handle anyone else's either, or I didn't want to. Still, I'm not sure you ever enter into these things expecting that there really is no easy way to self-destruct. It is messy and it is ugly and it leaves scars on you and everyone around you. You might figure this out when you are standing alone outside a phone booth in the middle of the night with no idea who to call because you do not want anyone else involved in the mess you've made of your life, of yourself.

I remember, explicitly, the moment I realized that I did not want to let all of the light drain out of me. That I had probably never been all that self-destructive. It wasn't long after I found my way into his world before I realized I wanted to save him. Someone needed to love him so that he knew there was something else in the world besides the hate that had fueled him his entire life. Only I didn't know that if someone has never known any love at all, they mightn't have any idea what to do with it. They might also have great difficulty in separating it from ownership, from obsession. And I was too young and too naive to know that you can't save everyone. Maybe you can't save anyone at all, especially when they are scarred so deep. His wounds bled into mine, we made new ones together, and I have never been the same.

Sometimes I think it worked. The self-destruction. Some part of me died during those years. And that is why I am here in the evening hours, some twenty years later, attempting to study cognitive processes and stumbling all over this lingering mess inside my head. Still, I loved him. I am a peculiar creature. We all are, I think, just a little peculiar.

Long term memory. Declarative. Episodic. You can never forget eyes like that. As dark as a starless sky. It is for the best. So you might never find yourself in that room again. Your mind blank, and his hands around your neck.

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