Sunday, June 15, 2014

It's Not Where You Are But Who You Are

The gray-white drapery of Spanish moss across solid, thick branches of antiquated Live Oaks has been a
part of my scenery my entire life. I was born in the South, here in South Georgia, and the landscape here has always made my heart full. There’s almost nothing that a pink orange sunset drifting through the pine forest across from my house can’t humble.

The culture…well, let’s just say it ain’t exactly a melting pot ‘round these parts. Most people are very similar in religious beliefs—this is the Bible belt, hobbies—hunting and football, and subcultural norms—Rednecks, sexism, and racism are all too common. My dad, though, was a music-loving, drug-dealing hippie and wasn’t really the typical Southern man in most regards. With his influence and perhaps a tinge of inherited rebellion, I stuck out like a sore thumb bandaged in vintage 70s hand-me-downs and red, glazy eyes. I didn’t fit in, and even though I made some very strong friendships with other misfits during my formative years that helped me make it through the horrors of high school as a football hating, Jesus dissing, rainbow-flag carrying weirdo, I wanted out. The temptation to run as far as I could make it—to Canada in most of my daydreams--was so strong. Sometimes, it’s all I thought about…getting out of this place.

I never made it out though. In fact, I’m still here in this area with my kiddo and my animals and my garden and two acres of land—things I never would have thought would make me happy when I was younger.

I have a maple leaf tattooed behind my left ear to symbolize that time and that temptation. Part of me still
wonders what my life would be like if I had made it out. It’s one of those dreams unrealized and before I ever noticed the pain of that raisin-in-the-sun, I had a child and an ex-husband, a house with a mortgage and a mom who might get more than a little depressed if she couldn’t see her grandchild on a regular basis. It was no longer feasible to run away like a 16 year old mope who was angry at the world. And, truthfully, it would have been fucking selfish to take my kid away from his family based on my angsty notion that my problems as a kid stemmed from where I lived and not from my struggle to find who I am.

The biggest journey I’ve taken in life didn’t require packing a few belongings into a backpack and traveling thousands of miles on a Greyhound bus wrapped in a flannel shirt with grunge bands blaring through the speakers of my generic earbuds and matching cd player (yes I’m that fucking old) the way my 16 year old self pictured it. It was done right here…within myself. It was after that distance traveled from the me who realized she gave up her dreams to the me that realized being somewhere different wasn’t necessary to be the person I was meant to be that I got the tattoo…a reminder of the temptation but also a reminder not to enter autopilot. At some point in my life I’d given up on all my dreams starting but not ending with my dash to Canada and it took that self-journey to remind me that I’ve got one shot at getting this right. One shot at life. Getting mired down in the muck of surviving day to day life with the stress of a 9-5 job and domestication isn’t me. That tattoo is a reminder to keep my passion, to fight for what I want or what I believe in, and make the most of the time I’ve got.

Seems silly to think a simple maple leaf tucked behind a girl’s ear can encompass so much, but that’s the beauty of life sometimes, isn’t it?

This has been part of Sunday Confessions with More than Cheese and Beer. Check out her own post on her blog as well as the other bloggers who linked up today. You can also find anonymous confessions on her Facebook page. 

1 comment:

  1. I did the run away thing myself, right when I turned 18 I was out. I moved three hours away certain I was leaving everything bad behind me.

    It took a while for me to understand that what I was running from was never in one place, it was something I had to face and reconcile on my own in my own terms.

    I find that now I'm at peace when I visit my hometown. Sometimes I wish I would have stayed but I can't focus on shoulda, woulda, coudas.

    The best and most meaningful journeys are always within ourselves.

    Great piece.