She couldn’t wait to get her first bike at 7 so she had freedom to get away, even if it was just to the end of the block. Her first babysitting jobs at 12 meant money in her pocket and an evening away, even if it was still just to the end of the block. She started work at the diner that was within bicycling distance at 15 ½; the first day she could legally be hired. Her driver’s license came at 16 and a car 6 months after that, which meant a new job at the mall, more money in her pocket and farther away. Get away. Get away. Get away.
She did well in school. Her grades put her in the top 10 of her graduating class. She wanted her choice of colleges. And she needed them to come with scholarship offers. Everything she did went toward that aim. The guidance counselor said she needed to round out her “high school experience” so she added extracurricular activities. Researching which was most likely to get her more scholarship offers before taking them on. She didn’t really feel drawn to journalism, or marching band, or student body government, but those things would lead to acceptance letters. Get away, get away, get away.
When she was deciding what to major in she researched the top jobs in the furthest away cities she could imagine. Where could she work? What would pay well? There. Away. What were people hiring for there? And then she focused on those areas. Chose her major and her minor in leaving. Get away, get away, get away.
One day in class the professor had written, “You can never go home again” on the white board and asked them to write an essay on that sentence and what it meant. She wrote the essay she knew he was looking for but what she really thought was, “Yes!” she printed out the quote and hung it on her bulletin board in her dorm room. But she changed it just a touch, “You can never go home again!” And she didn’t. She worked a part time job to make sure she had enough money to stay in a hotel during holiday breaks when the dorms were closed. She took summer internships in a city far away and lived in an apartment with four other interns to make rent. They all went home at the end of summer to enjoy the two weeks they had before school started again, she volunteered to clean the apartment and hand over the keys. Quiet. Alone. Away.
After graduation the company offered her a job. She took it without a moment of hesitation. They offered her a month off between graduation and her start date, to give her time to go home…she smiled and said she’d rather start right away. She rented an apartment to share with one of her former roommates from the intern summers. Her roommate would be joining her in a month, taking the offered time off. To each their own, she thought, but she knew she could never go home again. She was finally away.
Life moved on.
She did well at work. Moving up the company ladder. In her annual reviews there were always glowing reports. She was solid. She was dependable. But there was something to work on, sometimes she seemed a little removed from her clients and her co-workers. Sometimes it seemed as though she was thinking of something else. She should work on being more present. More here.
She made friends. She was social. But they all would say the same thing about her, she’s a little detached. A little distant. It was like part of her was always someplace else. When her roommate moved out to live with her boyfriend she just left the room empty. She could afford to live by herself and so she did.
Life continued to move on.
They had been dating for long enough that it was time to move to the next level or to move on. Normally she chose moving on. This time she didn’t. He wanted her to meet his parents. It sat like a rock in her stomach. She wanted to get away. He wanted to stay. He wanted to go home again. She never wanted to go home again. But she went. She met his parents. She smiled and shook their hands. She gave a startled laugh when his mother said that was ridiculous and pulled her in to a hug. He watched her with worried eyes. Would she run away?
She sat with a cup of coffee on his front porch. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” he looked to her for approval of his childhood home. “It is. The forest must have been fun to play in when you were younger.” He smiled, “It wasn’t a forest. It was the world.” She smiled at him. “I want to come back some day. Buy a house. Raise my children here.” Her hand shook, almost spilling her coffee. “You can never go home again.” He took the cup from her, “Yes, you can. If you want to.”
The wedding was beautiful. The bride was glowing. The groom beaming. She started her walk down the aisle alone. Then his parents stood, one on each side of the aisle, they walked toward her, each taking a side and escorting the now crying bride to meet her groom. Then they sat, each on one side of the aisle again. She was their daughter now, there would be no choosing sides.
He read his vows in a shaking voice. Swearing to always be there for her. To always love her. To always support her. To always bring her coffee on the front porch. Their friends laughed. She smiled. He placed the ring on her finger.
She took a deep breath and told him how much she loved him. How she would always be there for him. Always support him. Always drink his coffee. Their friends laughed. Then she said the only thought she had every day at work, on the commute home, was that she couldn’t wait to get away. To get back to him. To always go home again. He cried.
She got away.