Excerpt from Small Fingernails: “BLOODY VACATION IN NEW PALTZ”

Excerpt from Small Fingernails: “BLOODY VACATION IN NEW PALTZ”

The summer was raging. It was hot, very, very hot that year. Record temperatures, and even more profound memories. These would be the events that set the path for the school year ahead. But in terms of this summer, I had work and plans to put in place if any of my hopes and dreams with Dorothea would become a reality.

This was the most difficult summer of my life. Now my parents, along with my friends, were telling me to cut the cord while I still had some peace of mind. They said, “Its summer, Jacques. Rest and forget about her. Heal!” I really didn’t end up doing any of those things. To take my mind off Dorothea, I got a job at Sears selling large appliances. Everything from oven ranges to dishwashers to refrigerators. I sold on commission.

I was an excellent salesman. Sears would often run sales competitions for their staff. Often, I would win the competition and take home some new piece of electronics. It was motivating for sure, and I was on my feet all day making money hand over fist as a college student before the recession finally hit in 2008. I made friends in the store and had money, for gas to and from Long Island and for meals and dates. In the end, it was a page turner of a summer. The summer began with my purchasing, a red Toyota Camry with the remainder of the bonds that were put away for college. I loved that car. This was the most important time in my college career to have a car on campus. Since I needed a car to get to work in the summer, it was even more opportune to purchase the vehicle then, and break it in over the course of June, July, and August.

Break the car in is exactly what I did. Aside from driving the car to and from work, I traveled from town to town in Long Island visiting friends from school. From Down River to Islip to Northvalle, I got around the Island. The real reason I went down so often was to find myself near Dorothea-not to spy, but to give her a reason to invite me over.

As the summer progressed, I saw Dorothea more and more. Visits at her house were fairly unpleasant, as neither of her parents approved of me. But they would invite me to sit with the family for dinner. Usually, her mother would bring up Jimmy, but I heard less and less about him as the summer went on. By the time it was my birthday, Dorothea was coming up to Welsh to visit me. That birthday, she joined my family at my favorite restaurant, a historic log cabin upstate. It was a pleasant enough meal, and I was just happy to have her with us at the table. When we went back to my house, we were able to spend time together. It was intimate, but it was also bizarre, and a giant step back from where we were physically when she came to visit me in Freedomtown after coming home from London. She didn’t want me touching her vagina very much. This was much different than a few months earlier, when I could feel her get wet by my very touch. How I missed that, and the short spell of intimacy we had after London.

To reclaim lost ground, I planned a trip up north to New Paltz. I rented a room in a bed and breakfast, and we spent the entire weekend there. It was a nice little modern suite, with a hot tub, a beautiful king-sized bed, and a fireplace. Somehow, though, Dorothea found a way to damper the mood. When we were in the tub she wouldn’t let me touch her, saying she her body was uncomfortable. I couldn’t understand why? That was when she revealed to me she was having her period that weekend.

I couldn’t let that stop me. I tried to have sex with her a few times, but each time, she resisted, not because she was uninterested; she was just uncomfortable. I will never forget that last time I tried to penetrate. She began to bleed all over the sheets. The mood for the special weekend was lost, clearly before it even began. That was thelast time we spent the night together away from either of our homes before returning to Freedomtown. But before it was time to return to school, I had a house to set up.

This year I would be living with my friends in a house a few blocks away from the last home on Root street. Indeed, the house on Beginnings street would be my new castle, and Dorothea my queen. Finally we would have privacy in our own room. While Dorothea still retained a place on campus, my room would be “our” room. Weeks before the semester began, we went up to Freedomtown to set up my room. We ended up grinding on each other passionately on each bed in the house, in every room, but didn’t have sex, just yet. The trip up to Freedomtown was more successful than the B&B, I’m guessing for both medical reasons and the same old theory of proximity put forth by my friend Vito a year ago.



J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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