Sunday Confession: Run
The Curse of Life attached itself to me, sometime long, long ago. It’s been reeking havoc in my life before I was fully outta my pampers. The pain & hurt, misery & suffering caused by The Curse set me in motion, running away from it’s squeezing grasp. No matter where I go, where I try to hide, or who I seek alliance or protection from, The Curse always gets in & finds a way to cause misery & chaos around me.
My parents divorced very early on, just before I entered kindergarten. My mother, my MOTHER, chose to walk out instead of fighting my father for custody, because his position as a police officer intimidated her in divorce court & she was afraid that she’d lose my little brother & I, all together anyway. So why not just give up without trying & cut ties, right? That makes a lotta no sense at all! The reason for the divorce- my father’s piece-on-the-side had finally turned 18, so he no longer had to keep her outta his bed at home. She moved in just three hours after my mom moved out. We were told she was our Aunt! I knew then that I had not only lost my mother, but my father too. How I sensed the taboo associated with her age & that there was more to the Aunt thing than I was told since they were sharing a room, is still an unsolved mystery, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew. And the nightly “bar closed so let’s bring the party home with us, fuck the kids,” that started that very night only confirmed those first intuitions. That was the day I started to run for the very first time, the only time I’ve ever had to actually start, because I’ve never stopped.
At first the only place where I could run to for safety & comfort was my bedroom where I’d sit alone, sucking my thumb & rubbing my blankie til it was full of holes. Where else does a barely 5yo little girl have to go when she’s all alone? But since I had been a very early reader at 3, it only took til I was 6 to discover that the best place to run & hide was in books. Chapter books at that- too many illustrations ruined the scenes I painted along as I read. By the end of first grade, I had gobbled up all the books in The Little House on the Prairie series. Second grade found me living alongside The Boxcar Children, in their abandoned rail car with family who actually wanted me around. They also knew the pain of losing both parents, making me feel especially connected to them. From there I traveled through the entire young adult section of my school library, finding place after place after place to run away from the chaos my new party-loving, neglecting parents surrounded me with. The Babysitters Cub shifted into the Goosebumps series which gave way to the Fear Street saga. But still, the need to run only grew stronger because The Curse grew stronger.
The older I got, the more my parents groomed me to be the responsible adult around the house. If a stranger looked into our world through a looking glass,unknowing of my father’s profession, they would NEVER believe for a second that he was a hired enforcer of the law rising through the ranks with the way he behaved. Housekeeping, monitoring my younger brother, keeping track of homework, & keeping us outta my parent’s way as they got ready for their ritual night out replaced playing with Barbies, making friends, & being a regular ol’ kid. I looked forward to the night, when babysitters commenced & bedtime was called, so I could run to a world where I was free of responsibilities, able to be who I wanted to be, & unafraid of the consequences for being just the kid that I really only was. There was just one other time I ever felt free like that outside of books, that was when I danced. Dance class only came once a week on Saturday mornings, though & it wasn’t somewhere I had control over being. It somehow was the luck of the draw that my parents allowed us to participate in an activity or sport to make them feel like they were good parents & help keep them from having to entertain us in the non-drinking hours of their days off of work. I chose to take dance. Where, just like the printed words of a book could take me far off into a world of my own happiness, the beat of the music & the story it told could whisk me away as well, into a place full of comfort, warmth, & love. And I was surrounded by others who got me, who also were on the run from something, I felt what it meant to be accepted when I was at the studio.
The Curse couldn’t leave well enough alone, couldn’t let me feel overjoyed or explore the realm of happiness for very long. There couldn’t be two places untainted by it’s force in my life. It struck out, bringing a new type of pain & hurt into my shattered world- death. Twice in the span of a year. I was only eleven, too naive to process the deeply penetrating emotions of grief. First, my friend from both dance class & school, was in a boating accident in which she drowned. So unpredictable, shocking, so tragic. Leia was an angel here on earth, one of those girls that was naturally beautiful outside & in, that radiated with innocence, purity, intelligence, talent, grace & kindness. She lacked NOTHING. To lose her so young, unknowingly, unpreventable, tore the hearts out of everyone she had touched. The hurt I felt dug a gaping hole into my soul, ripping my heart out through it. I had nowhere to run from it, the emotions from grief consumed me, so that I could no longer concentrate on the words I was reading & dance just wasn’t the same without Leia lighting up the studio with her presence. My parents were surprisingly worried enough about my depression that they thought it best to change studios let me start over somewhere fresh, untouched by the hand of death. Little did they realize it was just The Curse because I would soon lose another person dear to me.
My first day of class at the new studio, my eyes immediately fell upon the girl with no hair. Kids don’t mean to, its just in their nature to be curious over aberrations from the world they’ve grown up in. Bald girls who look childlike but are really almost a teen, was a deviation from what I was used to & I was drawn to find out why. A girl near me must’ve noticed my looking & came over to explain to me “that girl is Elysia & she is sick with cancer, that’s why she has no hair.” This was in the early, early nineties. Before we had Ice Bucket Challenges, Donation Drives, Relay for Life, & The 3-Day Walk for a Cure in our daily lives. I thought Cancer was just some illness that you got for life that made you bald. I didn’t know that death was a possibility. Six months after our friendship had budded, I learned what Cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma, tumor on the spinal cord, metastasizing in the brain all really meant. It was St. Patty’s day, her beloved personal friend, Steve Yzerman & his Detroit Red Wings were playing a playoff game that night. The moment she took her last breath, the scoreboard at Joe Louis Arena lost power for a minute. Sometime after, the family was able to send the message to the team that Elysia had passed & Yzerman wrote her name on his stick, right after which scoring a goal for his new guardian angel. Tragedy strikes me down yet again.
The grief sustained by Elysia’s death only compounded with that of Leia’s untimely death, just eigh months prior. That’s WAY too much for an eleven year old to bear alone. My parents didn’t know, didn’t care, didn’t think that I was being affected by these tragedies. They didn’t recognize the openly displayed depression I was suffering from because I had NO one to reach out to, no where I could run away & escape the painful emotions I was drowning in, nothing that made me feel better as reading & dance had once done. I begged & pleaded God to help me in my crying spells, though I had never actually prayed since my mother had left, taking with her the only religion I had ever known. Somehow it worked, I was never expecting it to, but one day the answer was right there in my head. I found myself with a new place to run to, where again I could be free as long as I had a pen & some paper. And this time, this time, I could free all the emotions I had been gathering along the whole way, because reading may allow you to escape in its realm, but you cannot leave your baggage there when you leave. Writing, specifically writing poetry was what I had found, a hidden nook, tucked away inside a cranny, deep within my soul. A place where I could run to let off a load, setting free my overbearing emotions by transferring them into all the magical words I would never dare to speak.
The Curse of Life has never ceased it’s antics of continually growing diabolical proportion, disrupting & stalling my pursuit of Happily-Ever-After, time & time again. I’ve actually come to see The Curse as kinda a good thing in my life now because it has unknowingly taught me to be humble, simplistic, accepting, & appreciative of all that I do have that is good in my life. No matter what The Curse brings at me, I know that I can weather the storm & come out on top stronger than ever, all because I found that one place inside me to run to that it can’t take from me- My Poetry.