I am beginning to think it’s unrealistic to post everyday. Writing so often was not my intention when I started, but it’s giving me achievements for posting so many days in a row. I am a little addicted to achievements.
I have a weird compulsion to try for a higher number, but it won’t show me a list of the achievements. This makes me feel like they want me to be posting 500 days from now, wondering if I’m close to the end. It’s cruel to do this to someone with OCD. Make no mistake, this is by design.
Old sitcoms follow the same formula for family viewing pleasure, resulting in similar plots. Each have episodes where someone gets amnesia, or a guy has to take two girls to the same dance. The list goes on.
The plot I’m here to talk about is the Runaway. The one where an angsty kid packs a bag, and climbs out her window into the dead of night. I knew I would run away as sure as I knew I was not walking anywhere. My only choice was to wait for a car.
At 14 I began officially planning my escape. I invited Thelma, it would be beneficial to have a partner. She was excited to go, but I had yet to discover she was consistently unreliable.
For two years, I planned the perfect disappearance. Of course, it had to be top secret. Secrets spread like wild fire in small towns. Thelma enjoyed discussing what San Francisco life would be like, but she was not capable of understanding the importance of how we get there. I know I was ignorant to believe it was possible at all, but I understood it would not be easy.
I became so frustrated with her inability to save money or remember details, I cut her out of the plan. She was too sloppy, it made her a liability. I never told her, but I didn’t need to. When I was ready, I simply did not tell her I was leaving.
Once she started dating, she didn’t want to go anyway. Surprise, surprise. When she admitted it, I let her off the hook easily. She had yet to rank high enough on my Relationship Scale to warrant an emotional response.
Regardless of the issues with Thelma, the plan was solid. To plant false leads, I searched directions to New York on my computer. The real plan was to use an atlas for directions to San Francisco. It took me two weeks to complete my route. I do not understand how anyone was capable of reading those maps.
I kept a pocketbook for directions and keeping track of my finances. I brought it into the bathroom while I showered, and it stayed under my pillow while I slept.
** Is it weird I could only sleep with my back tucked into a corner? When I had to adult and stop putting my bed in corners I thought I would die. **
I believed I would have enough money to get an apartment and find a job if I started saving right away. I clearly had no idea what it costs to live a city. Or that children could not rent apartments.
I crossed off days on the calendar for over two years. When I got my own car six months before turning 16, I did not see a reason to wait. Thursday night, I told my parents I was spending a three day weekend at Thelma’s. After they left for work Friday morning, I loaded my car. I only had a few hundred dollars, not close to what I expected, but I could live in my car for the first month. Yes, just for a month. In San Francisco. Idiot.
I took time for all the dramatics. I said goodbye to the cats, cried when I realized I had to leave my DVD and book collections. I promised to return for them one day.
By my calculations, I could prevent my parents from knowing until Monday if I continued checking in. If I was not in San Francisco by time school reported my absence, I would at least be safely away from the search radius.
As an extra precaution, I could destroy my cell phone Sunday night. The thought of not having a phone anymore was painful but necessary. I wanted to remove all temptation to contact anyone from my old life.
In my special notebook I kept a running list of stupid ways people on tv were caught. The risks to keeping the phone outweighed the benefits. This was the major leagues, I had to act like it, no more complaining. Unbelievable.
How anyone was able to travel without GPS, I will never understand. I wrote step by step directions from my doorstep to a hotel in San Francisco, but they were worthless on the road.
I knew I needed to go West. I drove out of town without looking back, but a few hours later I was lost. I was farther from home than ever before, and excitement was turning into anxiety. I knew fear would come next, followed by full panic.
Trying to read my crappy directions while driving proved to be a bad idea. If I had a wreck, not only would my adventure be over, I would have no way to explain why I left town.
I pulled into the next gas station to back-track my directions. If I could get back to a place I recognized, maybe I could try again. I couldn’t even figure out which state I was in. The more frustrated I became the more I wanted to go home. The idea I might not be able to find my way home was truly terrifying. In the end I chain smoked a pack of cigarettes and decided to let fate be my guide.
I didn’t need to go to San Francisco, I only chose it because Charmed was my favorite show. I decided to keep driving straight. I could stop when I had serious distance behind me. After the anxiety was under control, I got back on the road. I was finally doing it, I was leaving! Nothing could stop me now! Idiot.
The new places I saw were amazing. So many times I wanted to pull over to explore, I wanted to see what was beyond the stretch of highway, but didn’t. I had a schedule to keep.
Three days was more than enough time to explore and still be far away, but my brain likes torture me. I began to fear my parents found me out. They would call any second. Should I answer it?
What if they didn’t know, but my not answering made them suspicious?
What if they did know, but I was too weak to keep going if I talked to them?
I could see myself disappearing, never speaking to them again, but I could not see myself telling them. I wanted it to happen without seeing their reaction.
I pulled into a Sonic for a late lunch. I had not eaten since the pop tart I forced down my throat for breakfast. Some people live to eat, I eat to live. I have no interest in food, it’s just a chore I have to do.
I had too much time to think while waiting for the food. I imagined Thelma calling my house, or my parents calling her because they can’t reach me when I drive through dead zones. In the end, I knew I was being paranoid. Thelma would be with her boyfriend, my parents would try my cell until I answered.
A heavy storm erupted, I thought it paired the day’s mood beautifully. I daydreamed about calling Thelma, she was getting out of school about then. It distracted me from the anxiety creeping up. Her imaginary reaction was amusing, I couldn’t blame her for not thinking I would go through with it. I wouldn’t have believed me either.
When I finished eating, I got back on the road. This is when I realized I would have to park somewhere to sleep overnight. I didn’t want to waste money on a hotel before I even made it to California.
As it grew later, I decided to park in the next town I entered. I would not be parking at any trucker’s death stop in the middle of nowhere. I wanted somewhere a scream would be heard.
The storm blocked any light from the sky, it was pitch black when I began seeing lights ahead. I marveled at how similar this place was to the other Holes, but if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.
** Holes – the old timer name for hole-in-the-wall places located between real towns. **
It wasn’t until I recognized a broken traffic light that I realized I had driven back the way I came. I went the wrong way when I left Sonic.
I was an hour away from home at the end of my first day. I pulled into a gas station and exhibited an emotion I do not have a name for. It was something between hysterical laughter and gut-wrenching wails.
I sent Mom a text saying I changed my mind about Thelma’s, I was coming home. I ran away for a day, screwed it up worse than anything I saw on tv, and no one would ever know about it.
When I think about how I knew to go West, yet drove away from the setting sun, I like to tell myself I chose the way subconsciously. Yea, just keep telling people that.
I never tried again. I don’t understand why I believed I couldn’t turn back, but I scared myself straight enough to know I never wanted to think about sleeping in a car again.
It’s a head scratcher, but everything worked out in the end. Oh, wow! Exactly like the old sitcoms! I love when things come full circle!