Because of or Despite: running away at 15
Over the next few posts I am going to share the journey of leaving home as a teenager.
A friend asked, is it because of or despite this challenge that you are who you are today? Great question.
I can’t imagine things could have gone any other way. Everything I share here is fully from sharing openly and I have no judgement for anything that happened. For the rest of this account, keep your ears big ok? I truly see and have cleared many times with my family about the impact I was and am on them for these actions.
At fifteen I left home on a Greyhound bus. I took a backpack and the contents of my bank account. Nothing more.
The book On the Road as a companion, I took the same journey that Jack had, across the country. A heavy heart full of fear that I was shoving down faster than a plate of delicious French fries.
Running away. That’s not what I called it at the time…I said to myself I was leaving to go “start my own life.”
After nearly two years of sneaking out of the house to go to parties, see guys and get high, my mom had me arrested from home one Saturday morning.
That morning I come home around 6 AM, and go to bed after a night of partying. I am sleeping naked and then there are two police telling me to put a shirt on. Still a bit intoxicated by some substance at the time I quickly threw on only a blue tie dye singlet, no bra, and a pair of Columbus East Track pants.
They put the handcuffs on me in my bedroom. I am dumbfounded, outraged and devastated all at once. There is nothing to do. I go along, hoping that somehow this isn’t really happening. Too bad, it is, suddenly I am in the back of the police car feeling the sticky cold pleather seat.
I get to the detention center and I am in a blank room, I ask for food and get a white bread sandwich at some point. Outraged further and further that no one can tell me how long I am going to be there.
Finally my mom takes me home after dark. The next day we are having a family meeting.
There we are circled up in my brother’s living room. I am ashamed, righteous and indignant about the conversation. Embarrassed that he knows about my drug use and partying and causing this commotion for my mom.
I can’t live with him, I can’t live with my dad, I definitely can’t live with my mom. But that’s what they decide I have to do. I am to stop partying, seeing all the friends I have, and most likely stop working my part time job at a restaurant. All I am to do is go to school and come home to the house with my mom where I feel I can’t be me. It sounds like torture to my 15 year old ears. I falsely oblige and eventually give in that I will comply, all the while I begin plotting my escape.
I know that I can do what I do best - run.
As I arrive back home, I stay up late sorting my belongings and texting my friends to ask for a ride to Indianapolis the next day. I find one, I arrange my bags, and then I get everything else ready.
I get up and go in the car with my mom to school. Her face is sullen and still holding the anger of the night before. I get out of the car at school, my heart pounding, I look at her through the window with a long gaze, feeling myself nearly crying and then I go in. My inner child desperately longs to throw my arms around her neck and cry. I shove it down and trod on.
I look for my friend Megan, when I don’t find her, I walk quickly out the doors again before the bell rings and classes begin.
I go back home and pick up the second bag I had packed, leaving a note for my mom. A page torn from my diary about why I feel I don’t have any other option but what I am about to do.
Getting to my friend’s house, we take off for Indianapolis, the one hour drive to the next town never felt so long. I go to the counter and give my sister’s name, hoping somehow to throw them off track, knowing undoubtably that I will be searched for.
Gruelingly I wait a few hours till the bus departs, nervous that school would be calling my mom by now, that she could just turn up at the station at any moment. That my plan could be foiled.
Finally the bus arrives, and I board, and there I go, off toward California. Again, heart pounding, heat in my chest and my body. Pushing alll that down and down and down. I have to be tough today. I have to be brave. I have to pretend like I know what I am doing. Following the only path there was to take that day.