Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I ran away twice when I was a teenager. Looking back I can't remember if the impetus was to make a statement or a break for freedom. Perhaps, as with most things, it wasn't all or nothing, but rather portions of both needs which hoisted my body out the window and up the hill on foot. I didn't get far. The station wagon was suffocating with screams and it seemed as if the move had been a grave mistake. The end would be far worse than the beginning. The ungrateful child prophecy was fulfilled, and there was something comforting about finally having that score settled. If you can't measure up, at least you can measure down.
So it was with these memories in tow that I ran away once more. Close to fifty years old and I packed my car haphazardly with the minimalists survival tools: clothes, shampoo, cans of beans, and an old journal written the year before my marriage...before me, the self that is now pervasive. I went out the front door and set out in my car with tears echoing in my ears and draining from my eyes. I marveled that I could do such a thing...rip a heart from it's chest and leave it lying there on the stained carpet, fish mouthed and airless. Truth was I wasn't running away so much as running up...to a point high enough that I could get a clear, unobstructed view of the road I was on, where it forked, and where the multiple paths led.
Each path began with my own fault and was littered with mile markers of cowardice and unworthiness. I felt guilt like a necklace of mortar shells...could barely lift my head with the weight of it, but forged on with an absolute need to know. Through the fog of my own apology I heard another, a statement not unlike my own, but louder still, and I realized I was not on this lookout alone. There was another surveying the road. He turned and spoke...
"I can see where you have worked this relationship with no reward. I can see that I have put you on the defensive for the last 27 years. I can see that I loved you the way I wanted to be loved, not the way you needed to be loved. I can see how you've set it before me time and again and I was too blind to see. I see now. I see you. I hear you. I am so sorry. Forgive me."
I felt redeemed. I know no other word for the relief of finding that all that broke was not entirely my own doing, nor would it be my own fixing. The blame between two can never be laid at the door of one, but admission is the first step towards a new beginning.