Sunday, December 18, 2005

Is that all there is? If that's all there is my friends then let's keep dancing...

I always thought there was something very romantic about the idea of packing a bag of essentials and taking off in the middle of the night to start all over in a new place where no one knows you.
I have done it, several times. That is how I ended up in Seattle.
It was about 2AM, I had money and a lot of boxed wine in me. We called the airport and asked what the biggest city we could get to was, and when was the soonest flight. It was $50 to Seattle at 6AM. I was on that plane.
I was also 17 and my parents were less than happy to get a collect call from Washington State the next day from their daughter who was staying in some seedy cheap hotel on Second Avenue.
I really was a good kid in the whole I didn’t break any laws sense. I was just extremely restless. My head was never in it. I was all grown up by 10, it just took a while for my body to catch up with my mind.
I hated living in the woods away from everything. I hated the fact that the only things I had to entertain myself were my thoughts and old movies. I hated when you turned off the lights at night you could not hear anything at all. You have never really heard your thoughts until you have stayed a few nights in the middle of nowhere Alaska, trust me. There is a reason the teen suicide rate is so high up there.
When I would come home after school every day, my brothers were usually at various friends houses, my parents were at work and I was completely alone.
We had a huge house that sat alone on a decent piece of property with super high vaulted ceilings. All of the open space made it feel cold, and created some really spooky shadows and noises.
In the winter it was dark all of the time, and I always had the nagging thought in the back of my head that someone could totally come in and kill me, take their time with it, and there would not be a person around to hear me screaming. It was a total head trip.
The first thing I would always do when I walked in the house was turn on the TV on mute “for company” and then I would turn on the stereo as loud as I could.
I would play all of my dad’s records. I loved the familiar warm crack and pop of each and every one. I fell in love with two men during that time, one named Simon, the other named Garfunkel. They seemed to understand what was happening in my head better than anyone in real life, and they were my closest friends.
At some point there was the realization that if I was going to join the rest of the world, I was just going to have to do it. I needed to take action before I lost my mind, and drown in my own darkness. So, one afternoon in the dead of winter, a few months before I was set to graduate I took action. I walked into the school and pulled all of the books out of my locker that belonged to the school and set them aside, emptied everything else into a waste basket and walked into the office. I set the books on the counter and said, “I quit.”
The look on the poor receptionist face was a mixture of both shock and sadness. She must have called security after I turned and walked out because a few minutes later a woman was chasing me down the hall telling me to go back to class.
I said, “No, you don’t understand, I quit. You can’t tell me what to do anymore. I am leaving.”
She threatened me with truancy slips and detentions and was still threatening me as I was getting into my car and driving off. I watched her standing in the parking lot getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror as I pulled away from that place for the very last time.
Weeks later I was in Seattle.
I didn’t stay in Seattle very long, only a few months. I couch surfed with friends and stayed in practice spaces of bands that I befriended while they practiced. I kept my belongings in the greyhound station rental lockers and would go back to change every now and then. Eventually I caught a bus and started across the US on a trip that lasted me about 7 months.
I ended up in Michigan at my beloved grandmother’s bedside while she slowly passed away. I spent my days working at McDonald’s and my nights visiting my Grandmother. Once she was gone, I knew it was time to go home.
I found a ticket for sale that flew from Muskegon to Anchorage one way for the exact amount that my last McDonalds paycheck was. I thought it was a sign. I flew home under another woman’s name (This is back when they didn’t check ID’s with tickets)
I was home long enough to realize you can never go back. I felt like I was all the wrong size now. I didn’t understand the people anymore; everything seemed so simple and laughable after what I had seen over the last year. I just couldn’t connect and it was not long before I was back on a plane and back in Seattle this time with a partner in crime.
I didn’t run away again until I was 9 months pregnant. I packed a bag on my due date and left him.
I remember sitting on the front porch of our apartment. He was asking all the wrong questions and I was slowly erasing him from my memories while waiting for my cab. I was going to do what was best for my child, and what was best was not sitting there on that stoop with me.
I lied at the airport and told them I was only 5 months pregnant, I was just a “Very fat girl” no one wanted to argue with that, and they let me on the plane. I prayed I would not go into labor on my 3 hour flight back to Anchorage.
I gave birth two weeks later. I was living back in my father’s house that I had spent the previous years running away from. This time it was my sanctuary and he was my savior.
By the time I gave birth, I could hardly remember anything about the man I was with that I left on that stoop. Her birth certificate has a blank line where it says father’s name. She and I belonged to each other and no one else.
I waited for two years before trying to take on the world again. I wanted to wait until we were both strong enough to make a go of it. I had as much growing up to do as my baby girl did. Shortly after her second birthday, I rented an apartment in Seattle that I had not seen, and bought a car through a friend that I had not seen and had it parked at my apartment. I tested out of school, and was accepted into a Seattle college.
We left again, but this time it stuck. Now it has been 8+ years, the longest I have ever stayed in one place.
Here I am. All settled and in a nice little routine.
And the music is once again the only thing drowning out the overwhelming silence.



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