The Ghost of Bad Times Prior

One recent nugget of wisdom that gets batted around is the idea of letting things go. The past is in the past and you need to move on. Sound reasoning, right?

Wrong.

Forgetting the negative things that have happened to you is like teaching a dog not to growl. A dog has no way of telling strangers to fuck off, so teaching it not to growl is a guarantee that someone will get bitten. Similarly, if you don’t at least remember the bad stuff, then you have no way of knowing how to avoid it.

For that reason, I sometimes judge new situations based on the similarly unpleasant experiences of recent events. No matter how much I try to move on from those experiences, the burn is still there, and it never really stops hurting.

So that is why I approached the coming Christmas party with my writer’s group with some trepidation. As I said before, I want to like this group and to at least get along with them without having to impress them with anything other than my own personality and my writing. I also no longer wish to associate with a group of people who make rude comments about me behind my back, and treat me like their own personal charity case.

I finally just decided to go to the party. After all, I had never been to a party with a Yankee Swap before. I wrapped up two Patricia Cornwell novels that I had no intention of trying to read again (her narrative style just doesn’t sit well with me) and showed up to the party a late, because I actually forgot what time it started. But I wasn’t so unfashionably late that I didn’t get to meet some new people, who were taking a sabbatical from the regular meetings of the writer’s group, due to health or work related reasons.

The swap was fun. It turned out that Cornwell has quite a few fans among the group and the two books I brought – which I had found in a free bin at Salem State University – were in reasonable condition. They got traded around a couple of times, but it was fine, because that’s the rules of a swap.

I went last. But that was fine as well, because the entire time I was thinking, “Whatever I get, I’ll be happy with and I won’t try to swap someone out, just in case.”

Again, remembering instances in the past where I did something entirely within the rules, only to eat crow for it later – because how dare I enjoy myself – I was slightly worried that swapping something out would make a bad impression on the group. But everyone was a good sport and as a result, I traded my Whitman Sampler for an anthology of Archie Comics from the 40’s and 50’s.

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More about that in The Salem Author from Bennington.

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