Saving the Day

I’m in the middle of the most recent This American Life (Episode #402, “Save the Day”) and it’s about people who experienced being in a situation where they instantly realized something depended on them, and they leaped to action to do it. It got me thinking, have I ever experienced that situation? I’m not sure.

The closest thing I can recall, and part of why I’m not sure it’s the same experience is that my memories are a little jumbled of how it happened, is when my friend Juanita was escaping an abusive relationship.

I was in college, maybe my sophomore or junior year. I came back to Texas every summer, because I had a guaranteed job in Texas, bussing tables, making sandwiches or washing dishes at Twin Sisters Restaurant. It settled back into my familiar circle of friends from high school, who were all drifting around in various states of college or job or family chaos. Juanita was seeing a guy named Tony. I was warned about Tony. By everyone else. Everyone told me they were sick of trying to convince Juanita to leave him, because he didn’t treat her well.

Juanita always told me Tony liked me, because he thought I didn’t judge him. I think maybe that’s because I didn’t know him well enough to judge him, which in the end is what allowed me to be the one to help Juanita.

He was scary violent. Sometimes it was in a protective sort of way – threatening people who harassed me and Juanita while we stood outside a club in the warehouse district of San Antonio. But mostly it was directed at Juanita. I don’t think I even knew the half of how violent he was with her, because Juanita protected all of us from that. And like many abusers, he was charming and polite most of the time when I saw him.

In order for Juanita to finally leave him, what she needed was a safe place to stay in order for her to make plans. Somewhere he wouldn’t find her. My parents house provided such a location. Tony didn’t know my parents, had never been to my parents, and they lived on the other side of town. Juanita stayed with us for a few days, a week, I don’t even remember how long, before hightailing it to Houston. I won’t say where she is now, just in case.

The thing is, I don’t remember how these plans came together, and at this point I’m fuzzy on the details. It’s the opposite of a flashbulb memory, where the images are burned in your brain, almost independent of time. With this, it’s like suspended emotion, slightly out of focus and jumbled up.


~ by realsupergirl on March 16, 2010.

One Response to “Saving the Day”

  1. My guess is that your friends — like me — know we can rely on you. You are always there when we need it, yuo just haven’t realized how much we depend on you. It’s interesting that the memory here is in slow motion, fuzzy, cause I bet at the time it all happened really fast.

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