At the Donut Shop

I love my neighborhood. Did you see my post about it?

My favorite donut shop is not the very excellent one on my block. It is one further away. It is my favorite because the owner has become my friend. I buy a lottery ticket from him and maybe a coffee because I do not like donuts, and somebody has to win the lottery. 

He won me over with his exuberance for life, his imagination and his sense of humor. 

I hang out. We talk. He tells me enchanting stories of Asia. 


I give up on studying Japanese because he will not stop talking.

He is from Cambodia and speaks Cambodian, Cantonese, Thai, Russian, now a little Spanish and of course, English. Impressive!

I hung out at his donut shop a lot when I was coming off morphine. He does not know how much he helped me through that time. He is an inspiring person.

“Why you are learning French? Why you are learning Japanese?” he scolds me. “If you speak Chinese and Spanish you can speak to anyone in the world!”

Because I am in too deep with the Japanese study to stop now.

And French because Paris is heaven.

He was very touched that I sent him a postcard from France. So were my Korean dry cleaners. And the many doctors I see. Everyone loves receiving a real piece of mail, especially a postcard from Paris. 

He gave me a pineapple cream cheese croissant on my birthday and, wow, was that sucker good, like an exquisite pineapple upside down cake! Simply delectable. Get there early for a fruit filled croissant. They go fast.

I asked him If I could work there, making donuts: the flour, the dough, the glaze, working the batter, putting them in the deep fryer. What would be more fun than making donuts, and such a sensual experience! We are so sensitive, my people. I could put my genetic disorder to work, serving humanity. It would be the best job ever! Professional Patient and Donutist, I could put on my resume, with pride. And Self-Absorbed Blogger. He said making donuts really is fun. He told me all about it. But that shift starts at 1:00 a.m. Hmmmm. Let me check my schedule.

One day he told me about growing up under the Khmer Rouge, the xenophobic, paranoid, repressive communist government that caused famines, committed torture and genocide. Imprisoned as a child, escape, forced labor, starved, friend shot, hiding in the hills, fleeing with family, waiting for it to end. 

He told me that without that chunk of history, without the Khmer Rouge, he would not be here at his donut shop in the hood. He would be enjoying life in his beloved Cambodia. But that regime ruined everything. He told me he is angry. He told me does not have nightmares. That amazed me.

As an adult, after the Khmer Rouge had been removed from power, he made a long journey to the old Khmer Rouge headquarters, just to see what it was like, who was still there, to talk to his countrymen. Just because. The story sent chills up and down my spine. I had to turn away as he told it, even though he was so brave and it was a beautiful story. Even though I was moved. It was too much for me.

God, are you telling me not to be so afraid of fallen regimes?

Because sometimes I wonder... 

What if I drove by my family home? The scene of the crimes. The House of Terror. The House of Pain. The House of the Jealous Psychotic Rager and the Master Manipulator. The House Where There was No Love and Not Enough to Eat. 

I imagine knocking on the door and asking the current owners if I could look around, offering to tell them about the property. Would they let me in? What would the house look like now? Is it still even there? I could look on Google maps right now and find out, but actually I don’t think I can.

Would the people living there now be able to feel what happened there for so many years, so many years ago? I know I would be sensitive to the negativity we left, as I was born severely affected by Ehlers-Danlos so I am too sensitive to everything. And why did I just write negativity we left, when I am not the one who did it?

I just don’t see myself as a victim. I was indoctrinated not to and I still cannot. I feel ashamed, like I had a hand in it. That is how I was raised, to believe I was causing it, that I absolutely must endure it, without complaint. Now it is so long ago, like another lifetime, hard to reach back so far into the hazy past.

I was so incredibly sick with EDS, I could not react like I would have, had I been a healthy child. This leaves me with many complicated feelings about my defenselessness. Does what happen even count because it did not properly register at the time? is a question I ponder. I lived in a state of confusion, from them and my disease. Everything muffled by the fog of Ehlers-Danlos, the pain of my body being ripped apart as I grew, getting weaker and more tired every year was my bigger problem. I am left wondering if I was even really there. 

How different would it have been without Ehlers-Danlos on the scene. Could have ended in murder. My mother’s rage was murderous. She loved a fight. She lived for one. Such a terrible disappointment, I was. Too sick to function, too sick to engage, perhaps the ultimate affront to her borderline mind. My only defense was not much of a choice. I could only ignore her. No energy for much else. Definitely not what she wanted, but it still very much fed her paranoid appetite for revenge, in her perfectly enabled borderline heaven. 

Now that I think about it, there was some luck that it did not end in murder. After one of her particularly brutal temper tantrums, my father would brag how she could have killed sibling, patting that sibling on the back, like he was telling a great story. They never slept apart. No trouble in paradise. I wrote a summary of my Failure to Protect Father. He really was something. It is sitting in Drafts, too weird to move to Scheduled. All of it was as confusing as my undiagnosed rare genetic disorder.

Maybe one day I will take a short drive into the past.

I have to confess it is a secret, dirty fantasy I play in my mind. 

I could stop typing and be there in 30 minutes as it is 1:00 am. Might take 90 minutes during the day. I am tempted as much as I am haunted, as I replay my fantasy again.

It would take a lot of emotional energy, much more tiring than physical energy. Not sure I have it in me. Afterwards, I would be exhausted from the adrenaline. I might have nightmares for weeks. I would miss a lot of sleep. I do not have hard drugs around anymore, nothing to make it okay. Can you imagine the clean-up Mr. Pennington would have to do.

It would take planning. I would have to clear my schedule and fill my liquor cabinet. 

I might end up with a little more insight into the past. I might know who I am a little better, as sometimes I get confused. 

But then again I might not. It might be worse to see the scene of the crimes. It might take months for me to recover. Who has the time?

I get a headache just thinking about it.

I think we can all agree, Mr. Pennington has been through enough. 

And I am not sure if I was even ever really there.