Gone

I laid in my bed in the dark, in the early morning hours. Without even opening my eyes I could tell that it was not quite light enough for the sun to have risen. There was no chirping of birds or sounds of traffic. It was simply the quiet nothing that surrounded me in a thick and mysterious blanket. For a moment, I was lost. I held my breath, trapped in time, wondering to what world I would open my eyes.

For the many years we lived in the trailer I lay in my bed at night and wished and hoped and prayed to be somewhere else when I woke up, anywhere else. Sure, there were good times. We were able to eke many good memories out of our years spent lost in the time warp called City View. The bad ones, though, tainted the rest. They exposed what our childhood imaginations covered up.

The bad memories pulled away the veil of fantasy that made us believe we had a home and friends and community. They exposed the rundown tin box we lived in, the trash that covered the floor and the bugs that were just as at home in that location as we were. The tiny rooms and flimsy walls held court for misery, all dressed up in his costume and painted face pretending to be an adult who was in charge. The trash on the floor and furniture made from rotting wood knew just as well as I did, we were simply 12 cans away from tragedy once again. Each time the show started we wondered together if this time would be the last time? Would this time end in total devastation?

When the veil was pulled back, we saw the truth that we were truly alone. In a community, of sorts, where units were rented so closely together it was amazing how there may as well have been a canyon between each of us. Help did not exist and there was no cavalry coming to save us.

It was in those times that I longed to be somewhere else. Anywhere had to be better. Every day brought more of the same in a long cycle of repetition. I wondered if I would ever really grow up and leave. Would there be a day I was big enough to just walk out and never come back? How would I know when the day arrived? I dreamed of it. In the back of my mind I held a tiny kernel of fear that the day would not come. That maybe we were just stuck there forever, and our time of suffering would not end.

I used to dream I was grown and gone, only to wake up and find myself back in the top bunk next to my brother, suspended in the air over our sisters in the bunk below us. Those dreams reinforced the tiny but growing doubt that we would ever get out. I managed to ignore the mounting fear and go on as if everything was fine, but it never quite left all the way.

After our epic exodus from the trailer park, I frequently woke up thinking I was still there, not fully believing we were gone in those moments between sleep and awake.  I would open my eyes and sit up quickly, checking my surroundings.  It continued to happen, with less frequency, well into adulthood. I knew misery was not a place or things, but people, and what they managed to do to one another. None of that knowledge erased the seemingly mystical fear and pull of the trailer park. If I went back and looked at it, what would I see? Would looking at it engage a time warp and suck me back in? I almost hated the desire in me to find out.

That morning, laying in my bed, holding my breath I thought of it all in a quick second. Before I opened my eyes, I felt my blanket, soft and cozy. I could feel the warmth of the child laying next to me in the bed, the one who had snuck in once again in the middle of the night. The scent of coffee wafted through the air from someone making a carafe of pour over before he headed to work. I knew where I was.  All the other faded to nothing as I lay there and soaked up the moment for all it was worth. I was gone.

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