A Memory from a Deep Well
I was quite surprised at the end of last week when a long forgotten memory surfaced in my mind as I thought about what I had heard and seen in the Supreme Court hearings on Thursday. I was asking myself if anything in my life was similar, in which I did not know details, like where something had occurred or how I had gotten home, but still had a vivid memory of some parts of the event.
I was seventeen at the beginning of 1960 when we moved to a new house in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. I did not make friends easily, and I had not begun dating, but I had a boyfriend at our cottage on Lake Erie, who I saw in the summer.
A life-long best friend of my mother, who lived in this suburb, called her and asked if I would go to the prom with a friend of her son who needed a date. When my mother told me about it, I said I didn’t want to go, but was told I should go and I would have a good time. My father likely supported her in this.
Mother said my dress from ninth grade graduation would be fine, and I was taken to her friend’s house on the evening of the event. Her friend’s son, whom I had met before, was driving. I do not remember what his date looked like or her name. I do not remember the name of my date, but I do have an image of his face. The place where the dance was held did not look familiar, but it was dark outside when we arrived.
What I remember about the dancing was that I could feel his penis against my leg all the time. After the dance ended, I discovered that this was an all night affair. The boys decided they did not want to go to the bowling activity. I don’t know what the other girl wanted to do.
My date and I were in the back seat. He wanted to kiss me and be close. I wasn’t afraid, but I was extremely uncomfortable being in that car. I thought the night would never end. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any money with me, so even if I could have found a pay phone, I couldn’t call.
I had never been told how to handle this kind of situation. I had often been told that I was not to talk to strangers, so I wouldn’t get into a situation. This was repeated so often and so strongly that at the age of 42, when I started to attend the community college in Livermore, I was trying to figure out if people in my classes were strangers or not, and could I talk to them.
Nothing happened except some unwelcome kisses. I was not assaulted. I don’t remember how I got home. I think, since I was uncooperative and said I wanted to go home, they may have taken me home early, because I don’t remember anything about the breakfast that was to be the last part of the prom. I was lucky.
What is coming to me now as I write this, is that I had to ring the door bell at home because I didn’t have a key. When my parents asked how the prom was, I probably said “fine” and that I was tired. I went straight to bed, and never talked about it.
This memory would sometimes flash through my mind when my mother mentioned her friend, but I would refuse to acknowledge it. It wasn’t a strong enough memory to come up while I was writing my memoir.
The other day was the first time I really thought about the event, and allowed myself to acknowledge that my mother had insisted I go to this prom as a favor to her high school friend. I guess she knew it was an all night affair, but I didn’t understand that before I went. Although Mother passed away eight years ago, I have verbally forgiven my mother this weekend for putting her friend’s request before my pleas not to be taken there.
As I have read and listened to what is being said about both testimonies, I’m sorting out what I believe from what I saw and heard. I did not hear all of the hearing, but only heard parts of it. As a trained therapist, I think there is a lot of information missing on the woman’s side.
That tiny repressed memory I have tightens my stomach as I recall that night even all these years later. So, I can believe Dr. Ford had an experience with someone and not recall details of dates and places. I also find it difficult to accept that during her psychology training this trauma was not sorted out, and is still troubling her daily life. And, I think Mr. Kavanaugh has every right to be angry as hell.