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  • Robin Kastengren

Ray? Could You Close the Door?

Dave Matthews once said, “Keep the Big Door open. Everyone will come around.”

Yes, I’m beginning my goodbye letter with a Dave Matthews quote so everyone knows it's really me.

I know my family doesn’t know much about me from before Robbie was born. My mom was in the way and it has always been hard for me to talk in big groups. I’m a private person. Even having posted all this, I haven’t said much about myself at all. I don’t like talking about all of this. I like to leave it all with the various professionals it belongs with unless necessary.

My entire life has been a walking nightmare until my son was born. Seventeen years ago, I had a burnout pretty similar to the one I just had a month ago. I was in a podunk hospital tucked away in a cornfield somewhere, waiting for an anesthesiologist to be flown in by helicopter from Omaha because the one they had was keeping a man alive after a horrific motorcycle accident.

The L&D nurses sat with me, my impregnator nowhere to be found. I was scared. My baby was breech, my water was broken, the machine was registering crazy contractions and the nurses were stupefied that I was just sitting there talking to them. I felt fine; I was scared because they were scared.

A nice man wheeled a cart in with some stuff for the nurses and started laughing. He said, “Y’all done scared this one speechless! Look at the poor thing!” He was right. The nurses looked at me and instantly everything changed. Lights down. Machines muted. Cart Man waves goodbye and winks. Nature sounds on the tape deck (lol). One nurse becomes the Room Ambassador and nobody gets past her unless medically necessary. Not a single soul.

My contractions slowed and then became gentle and several minutes apart. The nurse put Top Gun on the TV and said I could have some eye candy now that I’m relaxed since they’ll never let me have real candy until the baby is out. At this point, I’ve been in the hospital for several hours. I have no IV, I’ve received no medication other than OTC Tylenol or whatever they let you have. I’ve signed no papers, not even the insurance ones. Just chillin with my Room Ambassador watching Top Gun and waiting for the guy to get there so we could go for the cesarean.

So easy.

Just before my 28th birthday, my employer and several of my colleagues packed up as much as we could into a horse trailer. A man I never saw again drove that horse trailer, by himself, all the way from Nebrasks to my parents home in Illinois. I packed my baby, my dog, and our personal effects into my shitbox GrandAm that I’d been driving since I bought it almost-new back when I worked at the advertising agency.

The three of us made a run for it in the middle of the night. My now-former employer had filled my gas tank, handed me $300 in cash, and told me never to set foot anywhere she could see from her house on the hill ever again.

I left the worst abuser I’ve ever known in my life that night and I’ve never looked back. Not once. But, I had to do my time at my parents’ house when I first ran from that man. I had no choice.

One of my cousins posted on Facebook a few weeks ago something about being able to choose your triggers. I don’t remember the details, but I remember thinking it was a bit insensitive when I first read it. Now, having thought about it before starting a fight with her, I think I know what she meant.

I have no choice what my triggers are. My choice is whether to live a life surrounded by them and demand to be accommodated or just cut the fucking cord and live my life in peace. All I wanted was to be invited to parties so I could enjoy the company of the people I love. In return, I would do my best to throw good parties so my kids never had to sit in the front yard and cry on their birthdays like I did. I always knew if I invited my whole entire family, there’d be at least a few who would show up and help make a party happen.

I didn’t want to bother everybody with the rest. It’s fucking horrific. I do my best to point out the pedophiles and groomers you guys like to date, marry, and worship. And become. (Fucking yikes.) I’m happy to take the hate in return. I don’t have to wait for something “reportable” to happen before I simply never ever see your stupid face again. Right? Like, why would I keep trying after you told my daughter, “See what it feels like in your body when no means yes?” Or when you said to my son, “Your mom is just paranoid. Get in the car.”

Have a nice life guys.

As my pretend mom used to say, “Later, Tater.”

As Ray Butani once asked, “Door Open? Or Door Closed?”

As David Rose once said, “I’m gonna need a stiff drink to get through this.”

But, Moira persisted. She dumped out Johnny’s beer. IT’S SYMBOLIC JOHN.

She and Johnny Rose got in the car, took one last look back, and said, “Driver, we’re ready.”

And Eric said, “I’ve got a fast car.”

And I said, “I want a ticket to anywhere.”


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