I remember the first time I ran away from home. I was going through a very tough time in my teen years, ok who didn’t? Years later I realize that my escape was not just a practice of typical teenage defiance. Confused and scared, I was running from my feelings. Growing more and more tired of trying to explain myself, my actions and my anger. When pushing my parents away wasn’t enough to keep them from picking at the emotional scabs, I did what I knew I could do to emotionally survive. I ran.
It’s nearly impossible to recall what pushed me over the edge. So many memories from that time in my life have blurred or altogether disappeared, some of which I don’t miss but many I regret repressing. In any event, I got so angry that I literally ran out the door and across the sprinkler soaked lawn. I don’t even remember putting shoes on, for some reason I remember bare feet or some sort of sandals. Luckily for me, it was summer in Minnesota so my grand exit wouldn’t cost me a bout of pneumonia or hypothermia.
How far I ran or where I got to before I called my friends I don’t know. Somehow I ended up at the house of a couple friends I had recently made. Jenny and her boyfriend. I remember she is the reason I started wearing Jncos. You remember those, they were the pants that all the ravers and later the poseur skaters wore (I say poseur because no real person on a skateboard could wear these pants without them getting wrapped up in the wheels on their board). I also remember she had a very uniquely gorgeous face with an interesting and exotic last name. For the life of me, our first meeting or how we became friends or her boyfriend’s name are all lost in the ethers of my mind. It’s difficult to even offer a context for exactly when I met her. Who was my boyfriend at the time? Bryan? Shawn? I think it was Bryan, but I feel like if that were the case then why wouldn’t I have called him and gone to his house? Same with Shawn??! What the hell was going on that I didn’t immediately run to my boyfriend?! That’s weird. That’s almost always who I turn to first in times of crisis.
The only other time I ran away from home, I also managed to avoid going to my boyfriend’s side. This time I am pretty sure I was still with Shawn but instead of going to live with him and his mom I ended up at my friend Helen’s apartment. Helen had been my first roommate in college. We had a bit of a falling out as roommates have been known to do; especially when you are at the age when there is such a fine line between the times when you are partying or studying. Yet, somehow, I ended up sleeping on her couch in apartment she shared with Jack. Jack and I would end up becoming very close since we could empathize with each other about the difficulties of living with Helen. They had a much bigger falling out than she and I had; but time and distance has repaired relationships between us all now.
Living with the two of them, I missed my dad’s birthday. I think this was the birthday before he would spend it in a detox cell. I didn’t even care. A part of me felt like my point would be better understood since nothing, not even his birthday, would make me back down. Even as I write this I’m not sure it was that big of deal but a little twinge of guilt flickers in my gut. I was a daddy’s girl after all, and their first born child who until recently had been a pretty remarkable kid. All things considered, I still consider myself to be someone they should be grateful for. It could’ve been a hell of a lot worse.
Also living with Jack and Helen I experienced the most interesting feeling I ever felt- cutting my own hair. Long, locks of hair wrapped around my head and down to my waist in the form of dreadlocks. I had become convinced that my emotions were trapped in these locks and that by cutting them off I would be freeing myself from their weight and these horrible feelings I was having. It worked, for a while. I missed my dreads terribly and ended up growing them a second time not long after.
Half a decade later, living with Mark, I would get the most severe urges to run. We lived close to the lakes, which was nice but not such a safe place to travel alone at night as a female. I didn’t care though. I felt so low that I almost wished something bad would happen to me so he would feel guilty for pushing me out. He pushed me the same way my parents had. Pushed me even harder then they did to look inside myself at what was causing these unresolved emotions and to understand why I just couldn’t be happy with myself. He never had much empathy for my emotional upheavals since he, unlike my parents, was of very sound mind and body. He was also too much of a feminist to offer me the typical reassurance most other guys would, or maybe he was just a selfish ass and didn’t want to deal with it. Still not sure what parts of him I am making up excuses for and what parts I am finally figuring out. To this day, he must think I’m crazy. Can’t blame him. I think I offered him the same self-diagosed explanation I always had. That I was a manic depressive bi-polar. I honestly can’t even tell you if that is at all true. I took Zoloft for a time, Celexa too. So some doctor at some point must have offered a similar diagnosis, right? When you can’t explain what you are feeling or why, you do what you need to do for survival. I lied.
What was I running away from? My parents? My boyfriend? My truths?
So now here I sit in an apartment in Seoul, South Korea. Half a world away from any of those people, but not so far from my emotions. These demons are like stowaways that no matter how much distance I travel, keep up with me. All these times I tried to run, and they were still with me.
That being said, I’m getting tired of running. I wanna be free of this pain before I’m too old and my knees give up.