It’s funny how a single item will trigger a thousand memories. It’s not so funny when the memories it triggers are the kind you hoped would stay buried.
Prior to leaving to pick up Freya Saturday morning, I sent D a text to let him know I was on my way and asked if he would like me to pick anything up for him. He was just waking up when I arrived so he didn’t see the text. He had plans with his brothers that day so I was picking Freya up somewhat early. He didn’t need it immediately but wondered if I’d grab a few things for him when I brought Freya back. “Sure, not a problem since I have to go grocery shopping anyway. What do you need?”
He gave me his short list as Freya & I were leaving. I suddenly felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. He saw my reaction and guessed that I was disappointed that we weren’t going to hang out. He did his best to quickly cheer me up. I smiled and let him say his goodbyes so I could be alone with my thoughts. And figure out how I was going to buy one of the items without feeling nauseous.
It wasn’t an unusual request. It was something I buy and enjoy on a somewhat regular basis. It was just beer.
But it was the brand. As soon as he said “Pabst” the emotional trauma from my childhood that I associate with that single brand bubbled up to the surface. While D knows basically everything about me, there was no way for him to know about this trigger.
Hatred. Hurt. Anger. That’s what I felt every time I saw a PBR label for the last 30+ years. That’s a pretty big piece of emotional baggage. Over the past handful of years I got use to seeing the brand around. It became less of an emotional punch. Having to actually buy it, to have it in my hands, was a little more than I was ready to deal with.
Obviously, Freya sensed my emotions. She sat quietly in the back with her head out the window most of 75+ minute ride back to my apartment, until she decided it was time to intervene. True to form, and much like her humans, she resorted to comedy.
I took the main photo in this collage shortly after she nosed me in the back of the head. I looked in the mirror and she was smiling. How can you not smile when you see that looking back at you? She followed that up with the top, center pic when I said, “Let say hi to everyone!” She usually rests her head on the seat belt.
(As always, there are several pics from her visit. These are just a few of my favorites.)
During our quiet time on the ride home I thought of a million excuses not to buy that stupid beer. Options ranged from telling him the truth and him feeling bad for asking to lying and telling him I couldn’t find it. I didn’t want him to feel bad and I wasn’t going to lie. My only, and best, option was to suck it up and buy the beer… in the name of conquering inner demons and all that.
The non-ordeal ordeal.
When I went grocery shopping I walked past the liquor section 3 times. Literally went out of my way to get there and walked by it. I finally told myself to get out of my head, took a deep breath, grabbed the beer and put it in the cart. I briefly laughed at the anxiety it caused.
When I arrived at TheHut, I helped D put groceries away then we started making dinner. As soon as he had a break I heard him open the fridge, followed by the familiar “kssht” of a beer opening and him setting one down in front of me on the counter. Horrified, I thought, “He wants me to drink one?!” (Based on both deep-rooted history with the brand and, ugh, cheap beer.) Instead, I just smiled and quietly said, “This will be my first time drinking this.” After a shocked response, he saw the look in my eye. He looked at me quizzically for a moment, softly smiled to acknowledge what he saw then, true to form, gave me a history lesson on the company and decided to play a goofy drinking game while we waited for dinner.
While I’ll never go out of my way to drink the stuff and that label will always make me twinge a little, the ugly memories are over shadowed with good ones. I’m glad I didn’t hide behind one of the many excuses I initially had lined up. My world seems a little lighter without that elephant-sized suitcase.