This Is Not a Day at the Fair: On Poetry and PTSD
January 27, 2023
In August of 1990 my stepfather took me to the state fair because my mother had fallen out of love with him. I was seventeen and I knew this was a hopeless mission. My mother and stepfather had separated months before, and my mother had already started dating. I had heard her talking to her friends on the phone about which she wanted more: the house or their pool-cleaning business. Once the divorce proceedings began she would choose the house, but before that, I allowed my stepfather to take me to the California State Fair so we could spend some quality time together, despite the fact that we had never enjoyed each other’s company once in the twelve years that we had known each other.
My childhood had been ruined by years of my stepfather’s abuse, which was one of the factors contributing to my mother’s decision to leave him. She was tired of our confrontations. A few months before I had been cleaning the sliding glass door on the back patio when my step-father threw the door open, drunk and belligerent, and began calling me all sorts of names. Bitch. Slut. As he stumbled across the threshold, I aimed the window cleaner I was holding at his face and, though I didn’t spray, he backed off. He retreated inside the house and locked all the doors, locking me out for the rest of the day until my mother came home.
Though I knew the trip to the fair couldn’t fix our relationship, I agreed to go when my stepfather asked. I was feeling sorry for him. My stepfather was a short man with little education. I don’t recall him having any friends or hobbies, aside from drinking. After my mother asked him to move out of the house, he bought a bright blue Camaro with a t-top and drove it around town. I remember thinking that he looked like he was driving one of my little brother’s long discarded toy cars, and even as children we knew that was the car that said, “Hey baby,” when it sidled up next to a conventional sedan, which always answered, “Fat chance.”
My stepfather was also a broken man. My mother often said to my brother and me that my stepfather had been a happier person before Vietnam, but the war messed him up, and he couldn’t talk about it, so don’t ask about it, but try to understand he doesn’t mean to be so mean. But by the time my stepfather asked me to the fair, my mother didn’t have anything to say about him, which made him seem even more broken. So when he asked me to go to the fair for the day, I said yes.
Let it be known that I have no idea what kind of combat my stepfather faced in Vietnam, and that even with the Hollywood movies about the war circulating at the time and my history lessons at school, I never really understood the kind of atrocious memories he battled with as he battled with me. Let it be known that I had no idea about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or the studies that were being done on men just like my stepfather, which revealed that veterans with PTSD had a difficult time forming healthy relationships with their families, and that not only did they have trouble expressing themselves, but they were also more prone to anger, had higher levels of “hostility and physical aggressiveness,” and tended to be self-absorbed and isolated.
Every night my stepfather sat for hours with arms folded tightly across his chest as he watched television, a little too upright, too tense, a can of beer on the end table beside him. He unfolded his arms, drank, folded up again. I assume now that his tension was a factor of his bad memories, though individuals with PTSD have been shown to have problems with memory. So perhaps he was suppressing memories he could not exactly recall. Beer can help with that so he drank a lot of beer.
That day at the fair was one of the hottest days that summer, which in Central California means over one-hundred-degree dry brutal heat. The heavy-set fairgoers pushed down the crowded fairways like loaves of steaming bread on the conveyer belts of the Wonder Bread factory just a few freeway exits away. I’d been on a school fieldtrip to the factory when I was younger, and the trip to the fair felt similar; it was organized for my enjoyment but in reality was an activity I simply had to endure.
“Another hot dog?”
“Here’s one of those chocolate covered banana carts. You like those?”
“Well, Christ. There isn’t anything you want?”
“No, I’m good.”
“How about a ride on the ah, what’s it called?” He pointed at a raised track barely visible between a giant slide and a inflated bouncy castle. Even though the words “monorail ride” rose to my tongue, I remained silent as we watched the white cars slide by.
Or I think that’s how it happened. The truth is I don’t recall what my step-father offered me to eat nor what he said when I declined his offers, nor do I recall how we ended up taking a ride on the monorail. Though what I described above is likely close enough to the truth.
I often have to settle for close enough to the truth. My stepfather and I might have this in common because it turns out now that we are both individuals with PTSD, he from Vietnam and me from my experiences with psychosis. While the connection between veterans and PTSD is well established, it’s not typical to think about psychosis as a war, though it is. Research has shown that psychosis can be just as damaging as other traumatic events because of the intense anxiety that accompanies it and the stress of being involuntarily admitted to hospitals which, according to Patrick McGorry et al in their article about PTSD and psychosis, “often [involves] law enforcement agencies, duress or coercion, forced sedation, restraint and seclusion” not to mention the challenges of being locked up with other psychotic patients who can be threatening and violent. I’ve experienced all of these things. It’s also hypothesized that those who experience psychosis are more prone to trauma because their sense of self has been completely fractured, leaving more entry points for memories to embed themselves incorrectly. Because that’s what PTSD is—it’s a memory problem.
Traumatic events seem to be remembered only in a spotty fashion. This idea is controversial because researchers point out that some trauma victims remember certain things very well, too well, but don’t remember others. As Chris Brewin points out in his research on PTSD, though, there are reasons for this: “Laboratory evidence does suggest that memory for the central aspects of witnessed scenes, those that grab people’s attention, is generally enhanced by stress, whereas memory for peripheral, adjacent, or unrelated material is poorer”.
I’ve been told that I have the worst memory. My memories don’t seem to fully imprint. But the memories I remember, I remember too well. In my trauma therapy, my therapist constantly reminds me to tell myself that my memories aren’t real—not that they didn’t happen, but that they are in the past, and the past is gone. Though it sometimes seems like today is the same day as the day I lost my mind, especially when I enter a room, late to a poetry craft talk, and others are already conversing and the content is out of reach, I have to tell myself, I’m not going crazy— that’s not reality; it’s just a memory. What’s real is the craft talk. See, here’s a table with some graduate students sitting around it.
It’s taken a number of years for me to understand that I’m dealing with PTSD. For a long time, I didn’t talk about it, and I pretended nothing happened. During my graduate program in poetry, I wrote only maudlin poems about my childhood, dredging up the trauma I associated with divorce and parental abuse and recounting it in lockstep narrative verse. Thus my stepfather was on my mind long after he was gone from our lives, and he was on my mind the day a well-known poet visited the university to give a craft talk about poetry. It was an informal talk titled “The Real.” The table we sat around was large and round and covered in literary journals. The chairs were wood. Graduate students started at him, scrutinizing and bookish. I was elsewhere. I was at the fair.
When Jennifer Vasterling along with a group of researchers put veterans with PTSD through a battery of tests, they found that they have difficulty blocking out irrelevant information. They found that “PTSD-diagnosed veterans appeared to exhibit greater difficulty inhibiting inaccurate responses and filtering irrelevant information, as demonstrated by their proclivity to errors of commission and intrusion and to false positives across attention and memory tasks”.
As we shoved ourselves through the crowd that day at the fair, where was my stepfather? Smoke billowed from the roasted meat stands and screams cascaded through the air over the gun-like clackity-clack of roller coaster tracks. Though Vasterling and her fellow researchers did not test veterans in an emotionally compromised state with affective triggers present (and they cite this as a limitation to their study) surely this fair environment must have caused a few of my stepfather’s memory compartments to spill out into the fairway. I’ve never been to Vietnam, but from what I’ve seen in movies, it looked hot and smoky.
I can’t speak for my stepfather and his memory spillage, but I know how hard I must try, even on the most of innocuous occasions, to keep certain memories at bay. This is what brings me to the well-known visiting poet and his craft talk about “The Real.” What I remember most about the talk was that I was anxious. At that point in my life, most things made me anxious, and though I couldn’t say why, I know now I was trying hard not to lose my mind again. I had lost my mind only a few years before and now here I was sitting in a room with bookshelves covering every inch of wall and where dust motes filtered in the sunlight angling through the high clerestory windows and that was all very nice. But all wasn’t nice. I was afraid I would lose my mind again. Only I didn’t know that’s was what I was afraid of because I had suppressed the memories of losing my mind. It would be years before those memories returned. So when I mentally left the room that day, I didn’t go the hospital with its isolation room and its nurses with their needles. I went to the fair.
My most vivid memory of that day at the fair is sitting across from my step-father as we rode on the monorail. I faced his face with his reflective sunglasses and sun-burned nose and we slid passed the fairway with its cotton-candy colored lights and scream clouds, the beer garden with its insignificant blues music, the shiny green bungee jumping tower, the newest feature of the fair, a novelty discussed on the news lately. I had seen people interviewed after jumps describing the rush in breathless clichés, The most alive I’ve felt in years! As we circled around the tall platform with its tiny humans perched on top, they spread their arms, fell and my stepfather asked me if I wanted to try bungee jumping. “No thanks,” I said. There was too much jumping around going on in my head already. My stepfather had once kicked the dog so hard he broke her leg, there she was, her cast and coned neck, the way she cowered at his feet forever afterward. My stepfather driving drunk while my brother and I tossed about in the back of our converted van, the rough carpet of the van’s interior walls rug burning our hands and elbows. The blue Camaro. The time my step-father threatened me with a knife.
In his article “PTSD as a Memory Disorder,” Hein Van Marie outlines the memorymaking process: the “encoding phase” happens when the memory was made and then there is the “consolidation” or “(re)consolidation” phase when “initially fragile memory traces are reorganized and integrated into long-term storage.” This happens while we sleep. While our conscious mindsare offline, our brains use the downtime to organize and store important memories in sensible ways to solidify them, make them part of a logical history. However, for those with PTSD, the consolidation process doesn’t work; traumatic memories are like corrupt files—they don’t store well. Van Marie explains this using the language of the brain and its parts:
The traumatic memory trace stays primarily located in subcortical and primary perceptual areas, leaving it tightly coupled to its autonomic and perceptual markers, and lacking the appropriate integration in autobiographical, cortical memory networks. Exposure to a trauma trigger subsequently results in a solely involuntarily retrieved memory trace (intrusion), that is very hard to verbalize, often fragmented in time, and consisting for the most part of primary sensory information (images, smell, sounds) that is linked to physiological fear symptoms.
For those with PTSD memories get stuck in the wrong places and crop up at the wrong times and consist of the kind of data we needed to save ourselves, like smells and sounds: smoke and screams.
Sensory details are also important to writing poetry; they make the experience real. Hence the title of the craft talk “The Real.” The poet began his talk with a quote by Czelswa Milosz: “I affirm that, when writing, every poet is making a choice between the dictates of the poetic language and his fidelity to the real.” The quote then goes on to say that a writer must make choices based on either the conciseness of the line or faithfulness to an observed detail. To refuse to make this choice will leave a writer with “a heap of broken images, where the sun beats,” a quote from Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland.” According to the visiting poet, the failure to choose between poetic concision and “the real” observed detail would result in a failed poem. He was trying to use his interpretation of “the real” in this quote to draw a line in the literary journals scattered about the table, between what he called the contemporary avant-garde and mainstream narrative poetics.
His assertion drew the immediate response that a word like “real” elicits from graduate students. “What do you mean by real?” “Whose real?” Luckily for me, I had been digging up the past in my poetry, and my childhood trauma had become more real than my present so I didn’t need to worry about this semantic crisis. Hands went up around the table to debate the meaning of “the real,” while I sat on my side of the table with a bunch of very real things: my stepfather’s failed attempt at AA, the secret stash of hundreds of empty beer cans in the basement that I never told my mother about even though I knew she would have left him sooner. The day my stepfather saved my life by accident.
It just so happens that the time my stepfather saved my life by accident, I had been headed for a terrible fall. My brother and I were told never ever to consider, even for a second, jumping from the second-floor balcony of our house into the swimming pool below. My step-father told us this the night the newly-finished pool was being filled with water. The pool light glared at us at eye-level between the gushing hoses from our house and the houses of our neighbors as we waded in the foot of water puddled in the deep end. Above us on the patio our stepfather stood at the edge of the pool, beer in hand. Beyond him, the night splashed in the blackness. He pointed up. “Don’t you consider, even for a second,” he shouted gruffly over the hoses. His perspective wasn’t ours and he looked to be pointing at the moon, but we knew he meant the balcony.
One afternoon, when I got older and rebellious, I considered jumping. Standing on the balcony railing fully clothed, looking down, I determined that the distance between the house and the pool was too far, that I couldn’t make it. I decided that I wouldn’t jump. Just then my stepfather yanked open the glass door to the balcony, laughing. “Oh, you’re going to jump are ya?” (It is important to note: when my stepfather caught me on the balcony standing on the rail, he exhibited for the first and only time characteristics of a happy drunk.) Startled, I lost my footing. If not for his palm slapping me forcefully on the back, “Let me give you a hand!” I would have slipped and hit the cement patio straight below. I might have only broken an arm, but I also might have broken my neck. Instead I experienced a cold immersion and a baggy heaviness of clothing around me. My step-father smiled and gave me a thumbs up from the balcony. It was the first time he ever smiled at anything I had done. I felt an odd gratitude. I kicked against it until I reached the pool’s edge.
After “the real” had been definitively discussed at the craft talk with no definitive answers, the poet introduced a student poem called “Improvisation” that he described as typical of “the heap of broken images” exhibited by the contemporary avant-garde. He used the word “malaise” when referring to its language qualities, which were “skittery, somewhat absurdist,” he said. He used the word “dissociative” many times and with a frown of displeasure. His assessment of the poem, though apt (the poem leapt from image to image without any clear narrative or associations, without any logic other than its structure relating well to its title) complicated the earlier discussion of “the real.” According to the visiting poet, the poem was “not real.” In my mind, what was real was the heap of broken memories I had from my childhood. But after listening to the poet talk for a while longer, I realized that, to him, the “the real” referred to the way a writer moves down the page, and dissociative leaps weren’t real—only narrative was real.
This made me wonder about ledges. Railings, bungee towers, marriages. The monorail ride even seemed like a ledge of sorts, a moving ledge, given how much I wanted out of it at the time. Wanting to jump, to get away from bad memories, why isn’t that real? Isn’t a line in a poem a ledge of sorts? Or a stanza? Or a clean white sheet of paper?
Consider the story about how my step-father pushed me from the balcony. That story isn’t real in the most basic sense—it’s fictional, pure invention. When I wrote the line “he saved my life by accident,” I had to improvise. I felt like my stepfather needed a saving grace. But in the end, my stepfather would fail, even in fiction, to be a likeable character.
According to the manual Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation, “People with dissociative disorders encounter a number of problems that interfere with being present. When you are under stress of faced with a painful conflict or intense emotion, you have a variety of ways to retreat from the present in order to avoid it. Although retreat may feel better in the moment, in the long run you will become increasingly avoidant of the present, which can make your problems worse.” It’s like the mind has been so packed full of bad memories that the drawers in the memory cabinets can’t close and the contents spill out onto the brain pan. Every time we do something, we use our memory to instruct us—what do we do at fairs? how do we talk to step-daughters? But if bad memories and instructive memories are packed together in a bursting cabinet, it’s hard to recall just the stuff you need. The bad memories crop up at inopportune times. So you run away, you escape, you eat a lot or worry about your body too much, or smoke or drink, anything to get away from the present.
Boon and Steele’s manual includes many skills-based exercises for remaining in the present: “Notice three objects that you see in the room and pay close attention to their details (shape, color, texture, size, etc.)” This extends to noticing sounds, then touching nearby objects and noticing how they feel “rough, smooth, cold, warm, hard or soft, and so forth.” You are supposed to name these objects and their features “out loud to yourself.”
My stepfather was not a talker. He had never been one to say more than a few words at a time and that day on the monorail was no different. Some research shows that those with less proclivity toward language are affected more deeply by traumatizing events. Somehow words are a “protective” factor when it comes to developing PTSD. I had many things to say that day that I didn’t say. But I can say them now. I can name them out loud, to myself. My stepfather’s face was red. His jeans were worn and blue. The seats of the monorail were white hard plastic and smooth, so smooth like a stone tossed onto a beach after being polished in the surf for a million years. But it was bodies that made those seats smooth. Bodies and bodies and bodies. I hear their wails in the fairway as they spin in reckless machines. Mechanisms rev and clack. Terror and joy, terror and joy.
I’ve always been verbal. But my verbal acuity plummets in emotional situations. This is why I’m a writer. When I can secure a calm environment, the words return to me, all the words I wanted to say each day and couldn’t recall. I can let the memories intrude on the present and describe them as I soothe the scene with a protective layer of language, and, in doing so, I straighten the drawers, fold the shirts, close the cabinet doors.
As the bungee jumping tower slid into the distance, the monorail wrapped around a picnic area, then a water tower. The water tower looked like a huge golden egg balanced on a tall white pole, at least twice the height of the bungee tower. A little ladder ran up the pole to a tiny metal platform that wrapped around the circumference of the egg. Another ledge. How insignificant my stepfather and I must have looked from such a spot. Just a speck among the crowds, the picnickers, the cluttered parking lots around the grounds, the smoggy city skyline. What else was there? I want to see this scene again to find out what I missed so I google it. A number of people have taken video of the entire monorail ride, and so I ride along with them. Trees, tightropes, tents, botanical gardens, a cavalcade of horses, a giant slide, the livestock pavilion, bells ringing, bongo drums. It’s all there, just as I don’t remember it. Why don’t I remember? I probably wasn’t really there.
My stepfather might also not have been there. When I google “scenes from Vietnam,” in another browser, I get footage from the Mason Veterans project. The grainy gray film stock counts down 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, and we open on a post-battle scene, a helicopter chopping up the air somewhere above us. A soldier with a large microphone stands in the center of the frame and tells us, “After a heavy battle, it’s hard to tell who won and who lost, but in this case, the evidence of victory is very clear.” What seemed to be a pile of military supplies behind him shifts composition as a soldier throws a corpse onto the heap. It’s a pile of bodies. A jump cut spins us to a new scene as the voiceover becomes a drone of muffled intonations while men carry stretchers across a ravaged jungle, then the voice returns: “An enemy soldier is simply an object to be examined for documents then removed as quickly as possible, sometimes crudely. No one says a prayer here or holds a funeral service. These have been living breathing men yesterday. Today they are just a sanitation problem.” A close up shot on the bodies, mostly shirtless with bloated white stomachs, eyes shut, jaws slack. The voiceover tells us there are 48 dead men on this scene. American soldiers approach the dead with a body on a stretcher and they swing it to and fro, to and fro. The body flies up onto the top of the heap and tumbles down over the other bodies, rubbery and stiff. This happens again. Meanwhile, on the video of monorail, we’re in the fairway, a large Viking boat swings its passengers to and fro, to and fro, as the train rounds a corner then slides away.
It’s hard to know when an event in the present will be rigged to explode. To my stepfather, the fairgrounds may have been like a war zone. For me, I’m triggered by small gatherings of people, quiet academic scenes, scenes like the ones I disrupted when I lost my mind in college.
Earlier in the week, I was invited to have lunch with the visiting poet. A handful of other students were there, all eager to talk to the poet. The poet ordered a cup of soup and became quite upset when the bread that came with it arrived buttered. Looking back now, I think this toast contained some kind of trigger for him. Perhaps his abusive father force fed him buttered toast? After he finished his small cup of soup, he said, “I’m going to leave now.” Most of us had barely started our meals. My anxiety was already high from the anticipation of talking to this poet in a group of my peers, and the buttered toast set me off. I don’t remember what happened next, except the bile in my throat, the loss of appetite. I felt certain that I’d done something to make poet leave. Had I buttered his toast? There had been many times I had done things that I couldn’t remember.
In hallway of one of the psychiatric wards where I was kept after one of my breaks from reality, there was a payphone where patients sometimes received calls. My mother once told me that she had called the pay phone shortly after I was involuntarily admitted, hoping I would pick up. Randomly, I did. She said, “Are you hungry? Do you need me to bring you something to eat?” And I said, “Nope, not hungry,” and hung up on her. I have no memory of this, and I wouldn’t have remembered it happening that day at lunch. But the same feeling, the certainty that I’d done something terrible that I couldn’t remember, shuffled itself into the foreground and so the room tipped sideways at the poet’s departure. I remember the buttered toast sitting there on his plate as he abruptly got up, then the restaurant splinters into dark wooden booths, cloth napkins, dim light, the smell of beer on the tap. My stepfather drank a lot of beer, Budweiser to be precise. The few times I was forced to give my stepfather a kiss (Christmas morning and birthdays), his beard smelled like Budweiser. I still cannot stand the smell of Budweiser today. Once my parents drank a bunch of Budweiser and covered the Christmas tree in empty beer cans and then put one of my plastic Clydesdales at the topic of the tree where the star should be. In my bedroom down the hall, I was sitting on the floor with my collection of plastic horses and their plastic stable, tipping them back and forth in a stick-legged gallop, and there I am still sitting there until the room grows dark and all that is left is the feeling of rigid plastic in my hand.
Or I’m not. I don’t know where I go when I disappear. I just disappear.
There’s a theory that psychosis falls onto the spectrum of dissociation, that a terrible trauma earlier in life can cause one’s personality to become so inflexible that it breaks apart too easily. During my first hospitalization, the psychiatrist assumed that my breakdown occurred because of my stepfather’s abuse during my childhood. By an odd coincidence, the psychiatrist assigned to me at the hospital had also had been my mother’s psychiatrist when I was young, and he knew how terrifying my stepfather was. He sat on the edge of my bed and said, “You must have had a really hard time with your stepfather. Do you remember it?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. I didn’t know who I was.
Though there are very few things I remember from my stay in the hospital, I do remember this: when they strapped me to the bed in the isolation room, I shouted “Father!” all night. This is why the psychiatrist assumed that my breakdown resulted from parental abuse. In truth, I had been screaming about God—God was both my abuser and my savior in that cinder block room where time stopped while it also clicked ahead on the wall clock, which had black hands like insects, and there was a bed of insect clicking beneath the bed in a cave I couldn’t see, and this all seemed very real.
I want to make it clear that it’s not my intention to criticize the visiting poet. I think he might have reasons why he wants to see the world sensibly reordered. I’ve just found disorder to be just as real.
I found out later that the quote by Milosz the visiting poet used to support his argument was simply taken out of context. In that essay Milosz also says, “It was only in our time that men started to visualize the simultaneity of phenomena and to feel a resulting moral anxiety” and “The world exists objectively… That objective world can be seen as it is, but we may surmise that it can be seen with perfect impartiality only by God.”
When a writer refuses to make a choice between the dictates of the line and the realism of observed detail it does belie an inability to choose, and that inability to choose might be a failure, but it is a failure because the writer is human, not God. The poet can’t get high enough, move fast enough, to ever reach the real in its entirety. The real is something we pursue, not something we achieve.
To the visiting poet, however, pursuing the real seemed to mean “telling it straight,” staying logical. In case we weren’t certain what we meant, he passed out an example that he said exemplified his vision of the real. It’s a narrative poem, the speaker is a divorced mother who is trying to talk to her teenage son. She wants to know the name of the “Someone Someone” who broke his neck for a poem she’s writing, but her son won’t tell her; he just goes skateboarding off with an inexplicable smile. It ends with the smile.
In my made-up story about my stepfather on the balcony, he smiles and gives me a thumbs up after I surface in the pool. In reality, my stepfather rarely smiled. Even that day at the fair.
But the visiting poet didn’t discuss the smile. Instead, he focused on another phrase from the poem where the poet expresses her frustrations with divorce: “I wish I were retarded or departed.” “It just sounds so good,” he said. “Don’t you think that sounds good?” Good, yes. Real? No. A marital separation sounds very real. But no matter how much my mother wanted out of her marriage, she never wished she were retarded. A difficult marriage is already difficult. Who would wish upon themselves the inability to process the event? Especially considering the paperwork involved.
A few weeks before the trip to the fair, I just happened to be driving through the area of town where my stepfather was renting his new place when I caught sight of him jogging down the street in blue jeans and no shirt. His giant beer belly sloshed over the front of his belt buckle. I slowed the car to wave, but he was so wheezy and red and his eyes squinted from so much sweat pouring down his forehead, he didn’t recognize me. At school, I had once volunteered for the program for special ed children and his face resembled the sweet contortion of their faces when they made special efforts to understand something challenging and new. I stopped waving and sped away.
“Velocity goes against stillness, against depth,” the poet warned us while I sat at the craft talk on the slow-moving monorail with my stepfather, but the visiting poet wasn’t running fast enough or sweating profusely enough in pursuit of the real. Meanwhile, the monorail circled toward the agriculture area, the auction. I could hear the auctioneer’s voice, but it rattled off exchanges so fast I couldn’t make out anything but “Sold!”
Velocity. Veracity. Sound. Sound barrier.
My stepfather and I sat silently on the monorail. I watched sweat begin to form in larger and larger beads on his forehead. Those droplets still weigh on me, a constant pressure. Water sped down the water tower. Cars sped out of the fair parking lot toward the freeway. Somewhere in that parking lot sat the sad blue Camaro, still for now, but soon, my step-father and I would be in it speeding away from the fair, and then we would part ways. Though I don’t remember parting. I don’t remember what we said or what time of day it was or what was on the radio. Maybe I said, “Thanks for a nice day.” Maybe we even kissed goodbye or said “Love you,” as my mother had coached us to do over the years. As I stepped out of the car and headed back to the house, perhaps I turned and waved. Perhaps I shouted, “See you soon.” Though I wouldn’t see him soon. After that we never saw each other again.
 Caselli, L. T. and Motta, R. W. “The effect of PTSD and combat level on Vietnam veterans’ perceptions of child behavior and marital adjustment.” J. Clin. Psychol., 51: 4–12. 2005. pg 4
 T.C. Buckley, E.B. Blanchard, W. Neill “Information processing and PTSD: a review of the empirical literature.” pg 1045
 McGorry, Patrick D. et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Following Recent-Onset Psychosis An Unrecognized Postpsychotic Syndrome.” Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease. 179 (5): 253-258, May 1991. 253 – 254.
 Vasterling, Jennifer J., et al. “Attention and memory dysfunction in posttraumatic stress disorder.” Neuropsychology 12, no. 1 (January 1998): 125-133.
 Van Marle, Hein. “PTSD as a Memory Disorder.” European Journal of Psychotraumatology 6 (2015): 10.3402/ejpt.v6.27633. PMC. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
 Boon, Suzette, Kathy Steele, and Onno Van Der Hart. Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists. New York: W. W. Norton and Co. 2011. pg 4
 Boon, Suzette, Kathy Steele, and Onno Van Der Hart. pg 5
 Brewin, Chris R., et al. “Memory for emotionally neutral information in posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analytic investigation.”Journal Of Abnormal Psychology 116, no. 3 (August 2007): 448-463.