It can feel good to run away. To hide from the hands in the dark dragging you back into some semblance of what many call life. A life facing dull, ordinary events that no longer hold any excitement or comfort. Nights filled with nothing but homework and hours in front of the TV. No conversation around the dinner table or anyone asking about your day. Forced to stand on the edge of the person you want to be and the one you’re told to be.
Told to be the captain of the volleyball team or to get your grades up for college applications. Or that art and music have no place in your future. Or that the only thing worth doing is the thing you hate the most. To constantly question your purpose as decisions are made around you instead of with you.
When you run away you don’t have to deal with the expectations of perfection. You don’t have to deal with looks of scorn as you come home from a friend’s party a little drunk. Or lie about spending the night at a friend’s house when you’re really spending it in your boyfriend’s dorm room. You don’t have to sneak out in the middle of the night to enjoy a summer night without being drilled about where you’re going.
But when you really ran away it was scary. You had to learn to be independent, how to live on your own. When you’re on your own there was nobody to fall back on. It was up to you to find the money to eat and to weigh the risk of being arrested against the cost of food. It was up to you to find shelter on a rainy night; hotels and motels won’t rent to you. You had to trust that the stranger driving the car didn’t mean you harm.
And then you feel alone. The only person you can trust is yourself and the connections you make are momentary. You will wish for the comfort of that quiet dinner table or the disappointed glance after making a mistake.
As you light a cigarette on your birthday you will pretend the match is a candle. You close your eyes and blow the candle out, wishing to be back home.