Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hither and Yon

I'd pretend to be sleeping
When you come in in the morning
To whisper good-bye
Go to work in the rain
I don't know why
Don't know why
-Top of the World, by the Dixie Chicks

Those lines get to me.  Probably because I've done exactly what they say.  I've sat and listened while someone called my name, I've pretended to be asleep when I'm not, I've made an art form out of wanting to be found, but hiding all the same.  I remember being tucked into the hall closet in the old farm house where I grew up, listening to my mother yell for us to come down for dinner.  I'd sit, curled up, waiting.  Please, I'd think.  Please come find me.  Please come look.  With seven kids to feed, I can hardly fault my mother for not wanting to traipse through three floors of shadows, in pursuit of her youngest, most stubborn, most exasperating, and ultimately baffling child.  Why, for god's sakes, was I hiding in the hall closet when I had clearly heard that it was dinner time?  Eventually, when it became obvious that no one was going to come looking for me, I'd scramble out of the dark folds of winter coats and wrapping paper rolls and gallop down the stairs, away from the monsters I was sure were living in the closet I had just vacated.  I'd run into the brightly lit kitchen, only to find the rest of my family calmly filling their plates and just sitting down to eat.  "Where were you?" my mother would ask.  "I called and you didn't answer."  "Hiding," I would say, and it seemed to suffice.  It wasn't true, though.  I wasn't hiding, I was waiting.  Waiting for something that would not come.  Waiting for a pursuit, a search, a rescue from something I could not name.

In some ways, I feel like I'm still waiting.  If that's the case, then I'm still unsure of what I'm waiting for.  Proof that people care where I am?  Evidence of others' concern for my well-being?  I have those things, in spades.  Maybe there's just something about feeling like I spend half my life in transit these days: more often than not, you could find me on a bus, on the subway, on the T, on the NJ Transit, or sitting, shivering in a station waiting for the doors to open, my ticket to be punched, and the wheels or rails to creak into motion.  Back and forth I go, happy in each place, but in transit nonetheless.  GPS, text messages, and online schedules assure anyone who cares to look exactly where I am at any given moment but it doesn't make me feel any less lost.  Knowing where you are is a far cry from feeling like you belong.  Landing is different from coming home.  And it's only as I've gotten older - and been sought out and found and picked up and carried to safety more times than I can count - that I've realized with an aching heart that even being found when I'm trying so desperately to hide won't take away the demons from which I'm ultimately running.

Years ago, the dark hall closet held me secure but also trapped.  Folded in amongst the coats and winter boots, I was hiding just as much from myself as from my mother.  In the same way, running back and forth can start to look an awful lot like running away.  I want to land.  I want to come home.  I want to unlace my metaphorical sneakers and feel like I belong.  It won't always be this way, I tell myself.  This is part of being young; going with the flow.  Feeling like I'm riding the waves of change instead of fighting to keep my head above water is an art form I have yet to master.  For now, I'll make my iPod playlists, I'll read my library books, I'll pack lightly, and I'll enjoy every hug at the end of every journey.  I'm a lucky girl, I tell myself.  There's love wherever I land.  That is more than enough.

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