Run Away

When I was five-years-old I was so angry with my mom I decided to run away.

The memory is cloudy now and I don’t remember what exactly I was so upset about but it probably involved a childhood injustice. Sulking in my room, I was struck with the idea to leave and immediately knew it would be earth shattering for my mother.

I imagined how her face would fall and she would beg me not to go. How she would admit to being wrong, foolish even. She would wrap me up in her arms and tell me she couldn’t live without me.

I stamped down the stairs and stood on the landing. Chin held high I announced in my most somber voice, “I’m running away.”

I stared at her, waiting to see the crumple of emotion. Instead, she calmly stopped rolling out piecrust and smiled.

“Okay, I’ll help you pack.”

I stood there, unsure of what to do. This was not how I imagined it would happen. There was no grand apology, no admittance of guilt. She had called my bluff.

I pushed my chin higher into the air.

“Good.”

Back upstairs, I pulled my little blue suitcase that had once been my great-grandmother’s, out of the closet and filled it with the things I needed: Precious Moments mirror, pencil with the eraser chewed away, Valentine’s Day candy, and my blanket with the red and yellow ducks.

My mother folded my blanket and placed it neatly on top of my most important possessions. And just like that, I was standing on our gravel road, suitcase in hand, ready to make a life as a runaway.

And just like that, I was standing on our gravel road, suitcase in hand, ready to make a life as a runaway.

After about five minutes I knew she had won. I wandered around outside, playing with my cats and eventually settling down on the porch to eat my now melted chocolates.

I was only halfway through the candy when I heard a knock on the window. I looked up to find my mother, waving cheerfully. I picked up my suitcase and ran back inside.

I told myself I only went back for the pie.

I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately – the appeal of running away. How easy it would be and how good it would feel to say goodbye to Los Angeles.

At times, I’m convinced I’ll do it. When I look at the temperature and it’s 100 degrees in October, when a high-powered producer asks me if I can make my family drama script more ‘murdery-sexy,’ or when I struggle to see any progress in my career. Those are the times I want to pack my little suitcase and get out.

I’ve never been a quitter but sometimes it’s all I want to do.

I am under no illusions that I’m in Los Angeles for any other reason than by choice. But sometimes it feels less like that and more like I’m a slave to my career. Obeying it so completely that I find myself pulling up and out of it, looking around and thinking, ‘How did I come to be here?”

In the last few weeks I have made another career change, switching day jobs to hopefully glean more time for writing. Piling on more responsibilities, bending my life to fit my career for what feels like the hundredth time.

Almost daily I find myself in the same position I was as a five-year-old. And the truth of those feelings are just as clear today as they were back then.

It’s not really that I want to run away, it’s that I want someone to be devastated if I do.

It’s not really that I want to run away, it’s that I want someone to be devastated if I do.

I want Los Angeles to show me I’m needed – to feel my absence from L.A. would be a blow from which it may never recover.

But the truth, of course, is Los Angeles would go on without me – happily ignorant of my departure. Even in the face of sudden celebrity deaths and shocking losses this city churns on.

Just when I think I’ve had it, ready to leave for good, there she is, standing in the window waving at me. Letting me know I’m wanted just a little bit.

So I keep coming back for a little bite of the pie.

This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum.  You can find them (and me) here.

 

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