After hearing about Trump’s latest fuck-up today I felt like running away. How can one stand for such ignorance? Such foolhardiness? Such lack of foresight? There are no sensible responses to these rhetorical questions, except to stay vigilant, and keep shouting them. #resist his #ignorance. My history with running away runs deep… and days like today don’t make it easy.
There was a stretch in my younger years when I actively ran away, like a few times a week, or maybe it was only once. Let’s face it, memory, at least mine, is porous and malleable. But for now, let’s say that running away was something I did with regularity. I’d pack a few items, like pj’s and my toothbrush, and walk around the block to our back-fence neighbor’s house. I have no idea why that household seemed like a respite, for they too had plenty of children scampering about with two parents faded in the background, but it was there I always went.
If I seek a reason I might find two that fit: first, they had a known and well-stocked candy drawer in the kitchen. This defied everything I knew about respectability and I was entranced by it. There was also a teenage daughter in the household, who probably didn’t utter my name, but would sit and chat with me in her bra and panties without a pause. Behavior that compelled me. I’d sit on her bed, my pockets filled with the contraband candy and bear my soul. She’d brush her hair and nod. Eventually her mother would come in and coax me back into the night. Perhaps the saddest part of my escape was when I finally walked home and went through the backdoor no one in my household had noticed I was gone.
Years later when traveling with my entire family through Germany, I ran away again; the tension between the 8 of us had grown to a new boil which left me with two black eyes and a solid knot in my belly. It wasn’t so much that I knew where I wanted to go but that the ties keeping me were broken. Without any tried or true navigational skills I managed to find my passport and return ticket from my father’s drawer, and walked out the door on a morning they had left me crying in bed. Drawn like someone in a hallucinatory trance I crisscrossed Europe for a few days until I made my way to JFK and from here I relied on sleeplessness and poor judgement as my best guide to get myself somewhere. The mayhem and upheaval my departure took is fairly legendary, although hardly discussed, but it set into motion some significantly tough years living on the streets from one coast to the other and back again. Running was instituted as my pattern.
I tried marriage but after my second child I threatened and threatened to run off again. Living once again in a home of neglect, this one created by my own ill choices, I did eventually run out one cold wet night leaving the babies with him. That night lead to others, but dawn always found me creeping back. It was those first delicious moments of escape, speeding into the darkness on my own feet, and then spinning further out of control on the back of a motorcycle or anything that felt like flight that kept me running, until the wildness frightened me into a calm that pacified my restlessness for a few months. Then a third baby. Running halted, but as change does when so needed yet one can’t find the way, change arrived all on its own.
After that moment I took a stationary stance. Grounded myself. Surrounded with possibilities I choose less destructive forms of running. I was determined to never let my children feel such restrictive restrictions and prodded them to stretch as far as they could dream. Their optimism fueled mine. Now we count the joys we’ve harvested.
As I look back on that runaway girl, I tell her she got there. She got out. She can still run, but she can hold her ground too.