Always On the Run

My elementary school used to put on a carnival every spring.  There would be food, a dunking booth, a petting zoo, and a place where you could have your caricature drawn. In the music room, students created a haunted house out of butcher paper and flashing lights.  Outside, near the front office, parent volunteers would paint stars and rainbows and other colorful images on your face.  White canvas booths lined the parking lot, and within them artists sold paintings and crafts.  If you grew tired of the bustle of the carnival, you could always cross the street to the nearby park and spin on the merry-go-round or bob up and down on a see-saw that no longer exists.

What’s odd is that instead of participating in all of the fun and games, I would wander around until I found a certain girl that I liked.  Then, once I found her, the two of us would initiate what eventually became a sort of annual tradition.  She would chase me around the carnival for hours.  We would run into the school building, through empty hallways and classrooms; then we would emerge onto the playground, scamper up and down slides, around swings, climb monkey bars, only to end up back where we started, in the thick of the carnival crowd with all of its noise and boisterous energy.  At regular intervals we would both stop and take a break, standing within ten feet of each other, panting and out of breath, eyes locked together saying everything our mouths were unable to say.

I never let her catch me.  I always maintained a pace that would keep us within ten to fifteen feet of each other, but never, not once, did I allow her to penetrate that fuzzy boundary.  And I wonder now, as I did back then, what was wrong with me that I prolonged the chase and never allowed it to reach a conclusion?  Every year it was as if we resumed the whole endeavor anew, beginning where we had left off the year before, only to leave things unresolved again.  We both understood the rules.  Each of us knew when and where to find the other.  These rules of the game were implicit, unspoken.  We communicated through eye contact and nothing more.

In the end, nothing changed.  The little girl never caught me.  Why not?  Because I could acknowledge my fascination with her, yet I could do so only at a distance.  I sought her attention, yet at the same time I fled from it.  Now I realize that’s the story of my life.  I run from things.  No, I don’t run from things so much as from people, from relationships.  Not only because I’m often scared, but also because I enjoy running.  I love being chased.  It always gave me a sense of power.  Make others chase you, avoid being caught, delight in evasion.  But you see, the problem is that eventually those in pursuit give up on chasing after you.  They disappear and wander off in pursuit of others who play more fairly, who understand that eventually, you have to be caught.  And long after they’re gone, you realize that you’re running all alone.

*This post is actually five years old.  Honestly, I don’t feel much like writing lately.  My apologies.  I’d like to say something about what it feels like to leave Texas, again, not knowing exactly what I’ll be doing three months from now, but I don’t have it in me.  I feel confused.  And sad.  Texas is home.  Rather, it used to be home.  Words seem kind of inadequate at the moment. I may just take a break from WordPress altogether.  We shall see!

*Update: I’ll keep posting, but maybe more like once a week from now on.  That’ll do. 🙂  Thanks, everyone.