23 April 2006

Disappearing Acts

Sunday 23April06 9:28pm
I feel restless. I feel like I could pick up and leave without a word.
I've been sleeping too much and my energy level is just above zero. If
I could, I'd sleep until this malaise went away. It could be a low
grade depression or just a throw back.

I've always had this element of my character, a need to run away,
disappear. It's something that comes up periodically whether I have
problems, conflicts or not. It's a throwback to my childhood, the
running away from my father. The only consistency was the knowledge
that my mother, brother and I would be moving soon - no matter where we
lived. We never stayed in one place for too long after we left my
violent father.

I went to three different elementary schools when I was in grade three
because we moved three times not including the times we moved outside
of the school year. In one of the schools I even told my teacher and
classmates that they could call me Lynne because there were two other
Shelley's in my class.

My mother was pissed that I would volunteer to be the one that changed.
I didn't understand her anger. It wasn't like I could describe what
home was since it changed so frequently and with almost clock like
regularity. What difference did it make if people called me Shelley or

I went from a personable outgoing little girl who had the same friends
in Kindergarten, Grade One, and Grade Two to an introverted person just
shy of developing a stutter. I couldn't make eye contact with anyone. I
was the turtle sticking its soft fleshy head into its hard shell at the
first sign of danger. I knew it was dangerous to answer personal
questions. It was dangerous to get too comfortable or too close because
in time I would disappear forever from their lives. I discovered early
that solitaire was the game I'd have to play.

The benefit of the constant moves was the guarantee that should a
problem arise with a classmate I wouldn't have to worry about making
amends or worse tolerate a mean child who punished me for some imagined
wrong doing.

In my third school in grade three, I had a crush on Andy, the cutest
boy in the class. he was always friendly and sometimes walked part of
the way home with me because we walked in the same direction.

Sunita, another classmate, called me at home one evening to tell me
that she believed that Andy had a crush on me too. I couldn't believe
it. Sunita convinced me that, "he always talks to you, he walks home
with you after school."

She had me. She added a few more juvenile instances of why I should
believe. She promised me that she would talk to him, tell him that I
liked him and from here on in I'd be the envy of all the girls in our

The next day I walked into the school yard giddy with anticipation. I
waved to Sunita. She elbowed Andy and pointed my way. Andy looked at me
and made a face as if just by looking at me he could smell shit. The
anticipation changed to a need to flee. I think I went home sick that
day. When I found the courage days later I told Sunita that it didn't
matter what Andy thought of me because I was moving anyway.

That lie circulated my class before the day was out and even made it
back to my mother as a note from my teacher in my report card, two
months later, at the end of the school year. My teacher wrote about how
much she enjoyed having me in her class and knew I would be well liked
at my new school where ever I moved to.

"Why did you tell them we're moving when we're not?" My mother asked.

I shrugged my shoulders too embarrassed to say. By the beginning of
grade four we lived in a new apartment and I started yet another new

I notice that today both my brother and I have a shared rootlessness
and lack of commitment. I've improved, mind you. I've lived in the same
apartment now for 15 years. But every so often I'm overwhelmingly
restless and if I didn't have quite as large a collection of books and
music I'd slip away, disappear out of people's lives and call myself

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