(From June 2019)
Since I was a young kid, my most fierce dream has been to run away.
I would keep a small bag packed and hidden under my bed behind dirty clothes and other junk I was saving for some future art project.
I’d lay flat on my back, eyes closed, imagining the whole ordeal. At first the scenarios were impossible and dreamy– colorful forests filled with made-up creatures, fun adventures and new friends.
As I got older the dreams became dark. I remember one dream I had of me covered in blood crawling on a dirt road towards a house, up its concrete stoop, trying to get to the door. Perhaps that was a failed attempt to run away, but it was still something I wanted in the moment.
Next I dyed my hair, got color contacts and rode a motorcycle somewhere far, far away. I was mysterious, lethal, going to do something really important.
And after that I dreamt I would leave for the woods, rough and wandering, relying on my instinct and the nature around me to survive.
At the end of high school I would drive away. Stop in some small town with a coffee shop. Start over with everything. New friends, new lifestyle, maybe even new morals, I wasn’t sure but it would be different, and I wouldn’t have to speak for who I’ve been my whole life. Some nights I would lay on my back and imagine it, clearly and fully, and wake up the next morning longing for that place.
Saturday morning, I would wake to the smell of laundry and a vacuum on our gross carpet. I always knew my mom was cleaning when the hall light would be on. My bedroom light was on, too. So clearly, I can go there in my head. I feel the morning light coming from the window and my soft rose comforter covering my body. My lazy morning eyes look at the ceiling– covered in glow-in-the-dark star stickers from a Wendy’s kids meal and scratches from a stick I wedged between my mattress and the ceiling when I had a bunk bed and wanted to make a blanket fort. I roll out of bed and see the stains from failed art projects across the carpet. My desk is covered in paint and trash. I think that day I decided I didn’t need a desk in my room anymore and completely broke it trying to take it apart.
I close my eyes, now, and I’m back there. Hundreds of index cards covered in doodles in my bedside table drawer. Stuffed animals, old and worn, still nested lovingly at the foot of my bed. The sound of the vacuum turning off, and my mom answering the phone. I knew it was a friend calling because her voice was warm and bouncy as she answered. Later, it would be my grandmom calling, and I would know because she would be greeted with a more familiar, sighing, “hello”.
I close my eyes and breathe deep, sinking my body into the mattress. I\’m there. I\’m home. It\’s messy, loud, chaotic. There\’s piles of dirty clothes in my closet and god only knows what\’s accumulated in my bathroom drawers. I would walk into the bathroom and brush my hair before going downstairs on a Saturday morning because one time my friend told me she did that. Concoctions of random soap and makeup fill small bowls on the counter. Lipstick doodles on the mirror, sink and shower walls. Cold tile under my feet.
Some nights I slept in that bathroom closet, when it was clean. I felt more secure in there. I slept in my bedroom closet, too, and would tape things to the walls. I’d tie a flashlight to one of my dresses, and let it dangle over my head.
Right now, when I close my eyes and take a deep breath, I can go there in my mind. It’s there, and it’s tangible. I hear it, I see it, I smell it, I feel it. Right now, having left, I find myself dreaming of being there. Right now, to run away would be to run back in time. To home, ten years ago.