I remember that I was smiling, inside and out,
Walking down the streets of a town previously unexplored.
The morning air scented with the aroma
Of pavement wet and steaming from a predawn rain.
The chill of my grass-stained shirt and jeans
Dampen the excitement of that unforgettable experience!
Oh, the thrill of being young and adventurous,
Of finding myself somewhere far, far from home.
I reveled in the sights that replaced the pictures in the magazines.
I laughed at the tiny towns that disappeared in rearview mirrors.
I felt the rush of adrenalin
Gazing into a gaping gorge, echoing with the refrains
Of her naturally amplified white-water orchestra.
I became empowered by tumultuous city traffic
And a thousand towering buildings.
I knew I was alive
When I breathed the pine-scented air of a primeval forest meadow
And watched the sun rise in a sky of cotton candy pink.
In those days, those places, I found myself,
My strengths and weaknesses.
Plumbing the mysteries of my body and soul…
I found me!
It was so unlike the days and years before,
So distant from my earliest memories
When I lived as a slave to my childhood.
Orbiting the gravitational center of my universe.
Bound by ties to people who called themselves family,
Those who took it upon themselves
To torment me with their truths.
In a prison of time and stern warnings
I felt like a bird in a rusted cage,
Protected from my own identity,
Guarded against the possibility of encountering
An alternate reality,
A hideous monster that I was taught to believe
Far more deadly than a two-story farm house
And a half-acre parcel of land in the middle of nowhere.
But I had eyes to see…
And seeing through the lies
I struggled to live,
To be a piece of someone else’s puzzle…
The endless rows of corn
Three feet tall and yellow-green in the hot July sun
Waved me on as my old hometown vanished like a ghost.
The familiarity of faded red barns and apple trees
Spoke only of the promise of decay.
Swirling dust and exhaust fumes whispered to me of freedom.
I had made it to the Interstate.