All The Places I’ve Escaped

I don’t know that the word “escape” works in this case, but I’m going to go with it for the time being. If you know anything about my story, you’re familiar with my many “travels.” I lived in so many different places that I still can’t remember two of the five elementary schools I attended – they were that brief of visits.

But as I got older, and as the adversities grew in number, the moves felt more like an escape. Like some kind of Get Out of Jail Free Card. One memory in particular stands out with this.

In tenth grade, I was living in Virginia Beach, VA. I loved where I lived, the diverse school I attended, and my friendships. All of which changed one day, after one mistake. I would rather omit the details, only because I’ve yet to seek out this person to ask for forgiveness. I can admit that I hurt someone very close to me because of a stupid, reckless decision I made. I ended up losing a lot of my surrounding friendships and suddenly felt sheepish and foolish even attending school.

Then my mom approached me with the ever-present possibility of moving to Florida. I nearly screamed my reply of “Yes! When?!” I had an opportunity to pull the lever that let me Houdini the hell out of dodge. My family asked no questions to my sense of urgency, but they did provide me with moving boxes within weeks.

I left Virginia Beach with what can only be described as erasing a Dry Erase board … only to discover you accidentally wrote in permanent marker. Only on the outside was I the squeaky clean new girl. But only I knew what was within, how I did what I did. It’s that old adage revealing itself to you: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

I could go on how it became my eternal mission to always be on the lookout of how I’m perceived and to be found morally good. (You know what? Just read the Enneagram One type.) However real that was and is, what has haunted me the most is this: the inability to rewind.

I now find myself chasing whatever ghost of myself there is. To this day, Virginia remains sacred. So much of my youth story lies there, at least what I perceive are the most important parts. Including my decision to light a match to all that was good for me.

I’m mid-flight to Virginia as I write this. I haven’t been back since I visited last as an 18-year-old to see the friends I still had remaining. In conversation, Virginia is my most coveted place, and I always mean it. Though, I’m starting to wonder if I think this is more because of my escape. How, like a snake, I shed my skin prematurely and never looked back. I’ll never forget that pain I caused, and I fight to face it all over again.

I know it’s probably neither fair nor healthy to hold that memory in the storage bank, but I cannot help but think it’s important to acknowledge that part of myself and where I am now. However, even in the passing twelve years since that mistake, I haven’t sought out forgiveness. Maybe much of confused pain is really just imprisoned pain – it is freed upon forgiveness.

I know I will reach out to this person soon. They have never really left my heart. And maybe once it is all said and done, Virginia will look different for me. (Well, probably not – it’s such a beautiful, historically rich state.) But I will be curious how I feel after I give an overdue apology. It’s time I climb back up the hatch.

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