Wednesday, October 24, 2007

escape

It was 7 a.m. when I boarded the train for Houston. Nervous, heartbroken, physically wounded by the man who beat me the night before. It was my last chance to make a break from him. At almost 17 and newly unpregnant less than a year post-Roe, I knew there had to be more to life than this small town, that violent man, and dope. I was addicted to two of the three, but most afraid that the third would be my downfall. Small town life. Unbearable.

I am an outsider, always have been. No matter the setting, my internal gears are set in such a way that I am out of step and not in synch with the majority of you. These days, I relish those differences: nonconformity, independence, attitude, anger over injustice, the artist living in my soul and driving my perception of the world.

I've always been able to don the insider's cloak ~ I learned it all at my mother's knee ~ and I can pass. But it is superficial, a shell sufficient to deceive the majority (because most people don't really want to take the time to see the soul of another) and that's fine.

Shells, the superficial, these are the trappings of too much of life these days. They let us all move among one another without really connecting, and that's fine too. I don't want to connect with most people. If you live at the mall, if you have a photo of the Bush family on your keychain, I don't want you in my life.

My escape train crossed the border of Oklahoma, headed to Fort Worth. The club car opened as we crossed the Red River. The train trips of my childhood and young adult years were defined by the time I spent in the club car. Too young to drink, but just the right age to banter with the always smooth and sophisticated men who tended bar, I felt in that place that I could be anything I wanted to be.

Funny how something so mundane could have such an impact. The club car on the Amtrak rolling through Texas made me think that I truly could escape, could move beyond the limitations of my parents' expectations, of the destructive relationship that tortured my spirit and bruised my body, of my addiction to drugs, of my own conviction that I would never have any other kind of life.

The bar man on this trip was one of those visionaries, the ones who see beyond the shell. "What's wrong, baby, what's bothering you?" There were just the two of us and he was so kind and so I told him. We talked. He talked. He talked about his life, about how a man treats a woman. He talked about his time in the big cities around the country, about nightclubs and an other kind of life. An other kind of life. Not the life I had, not small town tied up constricted wounded dope and man addicted hopeless life like I had at almost 17. Another kind. Different. One where outsiders would find connection, community with others who wanted something different, something free.

I left the club car after dark. We were passing through a small town north of Houston. Standing in the passageway between the cars, leaning against the metal door, the rough-textured steel pressed against my thighs and grounded me. It was cool and the wind in my hair felt fresh and the scent of spring lifted me, as did the brilliant moon overhead. We rocked through the intersection of main street, moving slowly. Cars were stopped, backed up. Horns were honking. There were people on the sidewalks, neon signs lighting the way to Cocktails and Pool and I thought not for me, not this kind of place, this kind of life. I will escape and my life will be different, better. It will be good. A promise and a prayer for escape. A promise kept, a prayer answered.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Willym said...

Oh Lady, you once said that you hadn't travelled much and wish you could travel more. Believe me you've been on a longer, more complicated and in many ways more dangerous journey than any world traveller. And obviously you've reached a point in that journey where you can look back at all those stops and places visited with an awareness that I envy - without being envious.

Its so good to have you back.

October 25, 2007 1:06 AM  
Anonymous Brion. said...

Wow! Silence for almost a week and then you return with this!!
More please!
(Jeezz!! First Tater keeps us hanging on. . .)

BJ

October 25, 2007 1:07 AM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

Damn. Ditto Willym's wise words.

and damn.

October 25, 2007 3:41 AM  
Anonymous tater said...

Well, well, well! I begged you for this, and you delivered BIG TIME! What can I say? There is a book in this story, and only you could do it justice. Haven't I been right there with you on that train, in that club car on more than one occasion? sharing that sense of hopelessness with an underlying prayer of hope? I am so pleased that you took the time to put this part of your journey out there for us. What a gift you have for writing, and what a gift you bestowed on us with the sharing of it. Thank you. You know I love your keen mind, your politics, your big heart, wisdom, and warmth. I am so glad you shucked current events in order to give us a story from the past. Sleep or no, you are amazing.

Thanks again!

October 25, 2007 11:43 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Awesome. Pivotal. Evoacative. Damn, That's a wonderful recollection of a defining moment in a seemingly innocuous setting.

October 26, 2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Mark H said...

If a week off produces in the artist THIS fantastic inspiration, I'm glad you breathed a bit and let the feelings be expressed. YOU (& Tater) have a gift of snagging my little spirit INTO the tangled web of your travels. I was SO in that Club Car moving along a bare Texas landscape with ALL the complicated mind gears digesting life. IT IS the pain and hard lessons that teach us, not the day at the beach, and YOU can warm us to life brilliantly. This is not enough. Chapter two? What happened after seeing all that neon and the promise of escape kept?

October 26, 2007 10:48 AM  
Blogger Dusty said...

Wow..so raw and emotional..it takes one strong individual to put those words out there.

You have traveled farther than I have in many ways BaB..hugs to you for your strength and your passion for words.

October 27, 2007 5:18 PM  
Blogger ilovemylife said...

I am here because I read your comments at red7eric's blog home and he is on hiatus.

I love when someone can shed the facades that almost all Americans wear and be so real, so true, so raw in a way.

Thank you for your opening up to those of us who have stopped by. It is brave, it has clarity and it makes us feel connected in a way that only truth and openness can bring.

Truth is such an under-used concept.

And to be able to put such vulnerable experiences and perception into words is a gift.

October 29, 2007 10:42 PM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

"Away" is the operative word in the lives of people like you and me. Perhpas that is how we connect, and how we pick each other out of a crowd. Even before my teens, I knew I had to get "away". For me there is no more beautiful word than that one. The seminary gave me my first big break "away", Rome a second one, then there were others and finally when I met C and set up a home of our own, for the first time, I felt like I was arriving.

November 02, 2007 5:18 AM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

"Away" is the operative word in the lives of people like you and me. Perhpas that is how we connect, and how we pick each other out of a crowd. Even before my teens, I knew I had to get "away". For me there is no more beautiful word than that one. The seminary gave me my first big break "away", Rome a second one, then there were others and finally when I met C and set up a home of our own, for the first time, I felt like I was arriving.

November 02, 2007 5:18 AM  

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