A Long Way Home
"The people who are walking in darkness Have seen a great light, Dwellers in a land of death - shade, Light hath shone upon them." Isaiah 9 : 2 Young's Literal
I don't know even how to start. What to say. What not to say. How to tell a story that was and is my life. I can think back but it is foggy. I was alive but I wasn't. I dwelled in a land of death and chaos. But Light came and changed all that...........................
"No, they aren't my parents." She said " My parents are dead." She stared at the two people who she had known all her life as mom and dad. Her mind blank. Looking at them as if through the eyes of a movie that was playing out before her. She was alive. She was breathing. Yet reality was far from her and her life more of a vapor.. This story is hard to write. But it is her story. A story that I came across and one that has taken a hold of me and will not let me put it to rest. So tell it I must.
I met her at university. She was crazy. She lived in a world of her own making. Between lies and imagination. Maybe just escapism. It was either she was dying of cancer or walking down the middle of the road completely intoxicated. I would watch her as she followed her impulses. She could be in the middle of telling a story (and by story I mean complete fabrication) of something she did or something that happened to her, and tell it as if she believed it to be true. Even when confronted with the truth she would stick with her lie as though it were a part of her. I think I share this story because I think there are a lot more people like her or maybe more like me and maybe we all need a roadmap of some sort to help us along the way.
I remember the first time I met her. She had this way about her. Drew people into her whirlwind. Some of us crashed and burned alongside her. Others left just not willing to take in the insanity. And I, well I watched. We met at orientation. She was a few days late to Freshman year coming off of a prior commitment at a Summer stock theatre. She fell into the scene. And I mean fell. Wild. Absolutely wild. Stirred up chaos wherever she went. I think she thought life was a game or a play and the rules.... well, what rules of life? And if there were some they didn't really apply to her. Or maybe she just didn't think through things. I actually came to believe that she truly just lived in an unconnected reality not fully capable of attaching to life and the human existence. She was sometimes amusing to watch at other times just embarrassing. But watch I did.
Then the day came when the administration at the school had had its full. Maybe it was that she (on a dare) had in broad daylight taken off all her clothes and (as she put it) sauntered across the main quad. " But I'm in the best shape of my life." She had said. "Why not?" Or maybe it was that she had accused one of the university's football stars of going too far (too much had already happened for anyone to believe her... sadly even I couldn't tell the difference between what could be true and what she created to be true.), or maybe it was the drinking and partying, maybe it was that the dean had just gotten tired of hearing her name pass before his desk. So having been given the option to stay under a very stick curfew or go home. She chose home.
The night before she was to leave I asked her the question I had been longing to ask since the day I met her................ "Why do you act this way?" She looked at me. We were sitting in my dorm room. I can picture the whole scene as if it were only yesterday. The white concrete brick walls that were cold to my skin. The crazy thin mattress on the bed that was more like a cot than anything. The completely typical durable wooden furniture that probably fills every dorm room across the US. My books. My stuff. And her. Sitting on my bed. Legs bent to her chest. Sitting there holding her knees. Her eyes looking at me. Penetrating my very soul. She just looked at me for what felt like hours. Staring through me. She was definitely in some other place. At least her mind was. Traveling back in time. Back through the days and times. Back to the truth she had spent so much time getting away from. I realized after the words came out of my mouth, that maybe it was unfair. Maybe that question had been wrong to ask and maybe mere curiosity wasn't enough to make someone have to think upon events they had tried so hard to forget. But the words were out. The question lingering in the air. And yet she still looked at me. Through me more like it.
I just sat there. Sitting on one of those college dorm room "beds." (If they can be called that) Across from me she sat. Was I a caged animal that I couldn't get up? I couldn't get up and leave. Couldn't leave my skin, who I was, my life. I couldn't. "Why do you act this way?" Was her question. Had it been so easy for her to ask? Did she realize what the events were? Those things that had created me, a mere vapor, of a human being. So unattached to people and reality. How did other people do it? How did other people string together days and months and years? How did other people live? How did other people care? Or take in reality? How did other people stay connected and focused?
I never really thought through anything that happened. Consequences of my actions. What are those? Ugh. How did other people live life and not just escape to some made up fantasy world that exists in imaginations like mine? What are people? What is this life? What am I supposed to be? Did I always know when I was lying? Yes. Did I ever care? Nope. Did I ever mean to hurt anyone? No, I really didn't. But I also didn't care if I was hurt. Or I had just gotten to the place where so much pain existed anyway that the reality of day to day existence didn't exist. I just plain didn't think. Incapable? Maybe? More like just not part of the human experience as the majority of the population knows it to be.
So that question. "Why do I act this way?" Wow! Did it hang in the air..... I vanished. Got lost back into days past. Ones that had been fought over to be forgotten. Living back the moments. Were they the reason I was who I was? Had all those things created me? Had I learned so well to escape into my mind. Was there nothing real about me but my body?
I watched her.
Wondering what were her thoughts.
Then it came......................
Not a story like the ones I had come to know or expect from her.
But the truth.
All I could think was....... "Would I even be alive if I had lived in her shoes?" As I watched her tell her story, (for the first time in her life), as I saw her relive moments she had fought to forget. Run away from. Or simply ignore. I saw a strength that had carried her to the moment we were in....... and I hoped that it would continue to carry her ..... For I knew she had long way home.
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