Monday, November 22, 2010

The Colors Won't Last, They Bleed And They Burn

I've decided that I want to start featuring more of my photography on my blog. So from now on, I'm going to post a photo with all of my entries. I'm going to try to keep the photos related to the content, in some way shape or form, but my train of thought usually takes the scenic route so I'm not sure if it will always be apparent why I chose it. No matter. 

After reading Ali's blog on running away, I was inspired to share my own story, and thoughts on the matter. 

When I was 10, I packed my little pink roller suitcase. A few outfits, t-shirts, jeans, underwear. A few non-perishable snacks, a bottle of water, at least $100 in cash, and a few personal items I'd want to bring with me. I pushed the suitcase under my bed, and that's where it sat, until I was at least 13. It was always ready, should I decide to leave in the middle of the night. 

There are a couple of things people think when I tell them this. That I was a drama queen, or that it's "cute". It wasn't actually cute. I was having an extremely hard time emotionally at that point in my life, which people also brush off because "ten year olds can't be depressed". I would argue that they very much can be. At the time I was packing this suitcase, I had also cut off all my hair, stopped eating, lost 10 pounds (which is a rather significant drop when you haven't broken 100 pounds yet), and wore oversized shirts to try to disguise the fact that I was skeletal and pale. There's a 2 or 3 year period where there are just no photos of me. They literally don't exist. I can show you a photo from right before this happened, and from after I finally started to get better, but the photos from in between don't exist. 

I hated my school. I was frightened of it because the cops had to be around so often because kids were violent. I had already had some trouble with my anxiety in elementary school, especially social anxiety, but it only got worse as I grew older. I didn't have very many friends, and people made fun of me because of what I looked like. I sometimes think that the self esteem issues I suffer from today are leftover from that point in my life. 

So I packed my suitcase, and planned to run away. And of course, I was 10, so running away literally meant running (well, walking), and not the slightly smarter option of, you know, taking a bus or a train. My plan was to go down to Cape May, where my family lived in the summer, and my plan was to walk. I had actually figured out how long it would take me to walk down the Garden State Parkway based on how fast I could run and walk a mile according to gym class. Never mind the fact that it's not actually legal to walk down the Garden State Parkway as a pedestrian. Also never mind the fact that if I'd mastered use of the internet back in those days, I could have learned that it would have been far more practical to take a 163 bus into Port Authority, and transfer to a 319 down to Atlantic City and Cape May. No, I was going to walk. I forget how long I thought it was going to take me, but definitely a couple of days. It's 160 miles worth of parkway. And I was going to walk it, all the way to the end. I mean, they had rest stations every 30 miles, I could do 30 miles in a day, or so I thought. And when I got to the end, I was going to live on the beach. They have tents there on the beach, and my idea was to go there, and live in one of the tents on the beach. Yup, that was the whole plan. 

The farthest I ever got was the end of the driveway. I snuck out a couple times, in the middle of the night when things were really bad, and I dragged my little roller suitcase all the way to the end of the driveway. But I always found a reason to stay. I always found something, however small, to look forward to. It could be something simple, something small, but there was always some small light in the darkness that kept me from going. I don't think I ever stopped because afraid. In the worst of these years, I wished myself dead many times with no actual fear of death. I don't think it was ever fear that stopped me, just that something to look forward to. 

The ironic part is that when I was a little older, I actually did run away, and it was completely spontaneous. I got in a huge fight with my parents, turned on me heel, walked out the door, and didn't stop. Needless to say, you don't get very far when you do that right in front of everybody, because both my parents got in their cars, called my aunt and uncle and they got in their cars, and there were four people combing the streets for me. I lasted about an hour. I fail at running away. 

I don't keep a packed suitcase anymore. I don't keep travel plans set up to escape when things get tough. Because I'm an adult now, and as such, I have obligations. I can't pick up my suitcase, head to the airport, and just go somewhere. And yet...

Right now, I am in the best position in my life that I have ever been to make such a leap. 

I have enough money in my savings account that I could afford a plane ticket and living expenses for quite a while. I'm finished with school. My job in my field is ending soon, and it would give me no great grief to quit my dead-end retail job. But most importantly, there is no one here that I'm staying for. 

Ah, the bitter truth of it comes out at last. Apart from my extreme dedication to my education, the one thing that has always kept me from running away in my adult years has been a man. Not the same man, mind you. For a long time, it was That Man. He was all kinds of wonderful, and I never wanted to be away when he was around. Which was ironic, because he spent a good deal of time away. But I always made sure that I was here waiting for him when he came back. I was reluctant to so much as go on vacation when he was around - I didn't want to miss any opportunity to spend time with him. 

And then came Prince Charming. Into my life rode this gorgeous man who I believed to be perfect. (Funny how I keep making that mistake, isn't it?) We had everything in common, and he was fun and interesting and funny and kind. I immediately stopped looking for touring positions, and started looking for local work, so that I could stay here. 

In both cases, I wound up crushed and heartbroken.

So here I am. 

And once again, I'm itching to run. I have no reason to stay. But I don't know where I want to go.


1 comment:

  1. I kind of want to hug you. I should admit -- I'm a hugger. I don't know how not to be. And after reading this, after hearing about how felt during those years...definitely worthy of hugs. And chocolate. And a drink. I don't care if it's only after 7 am.

    Your school, growing up, had to be super scary. I would've been terrified, too. Hell, I pretty much loathed high school, and I didn't have cops roaming the halls.

    I love what you said, though, about always finding a reason to stay. I do that, too. I always find a reason to fight for someone, too, if I care about them. It's a bad habit in some cases. But I think (in our case, and yes -- I'm totally lumping us in together) it shows strength of character. So many people don't have the ability to stay. Some, even if running doesn't mean an actual trip somewhere else. They disappear, and they can be right next to you. That is something I can never see you doing.

    As far as the guys who broke your heart: bastards, both of them. I'd very much like to have words with them, because they are possibly the biggest fools to walk this damned, bloody earth.

    You've got a big heart, Jessica. You are there for people. You take care of others (you took care of both those men in different ways). And you deserve someone who returns the favor.

    For a moment, I wanted to say: if you run away, come run away by me! The second thought was if you disappeared, I'd miss you.

    Big hugs, chica.