By Kenneth Stepp
“If I disappear, who decided if I am lost” – k stepp
Have you ever wanted to run away? Just here one day and gone the next? I have a fantasy… I buy a camper, shut down my social media, change my phone number, and go see the country I love so much. I want to go back out west and see every tourist site that I can in my lifetime. California, Texas, and Washington state. My bucket list has evolved into just a few things. But should I get my camper, my bucket list will evolve into whatever is in front of me. Why bring this up now? Because I visit a dealer only auction every Wednesday and last Wednesday I bid on a 28 foot camper. They did not accept my bid, but they run almost every week and sooner or later I will bid enough and own my home away from home. What then? Time will tell…
“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing” – R. D. Laing
So I ask again, have you ever wanted to run away? I did once when I was married. I was with her for 24 years. The last 8 years we were falling apart. We still had kids to raise and because of this, we sought counselling. We went to the first one for a few years off and on. Sometimes many times in a row. By the time we found the third counselor years later, I knew things were becoming hopeless. At the end of one of our sessions, she said something that confirmed we were through. All that was left to do was for me to leave. Instead, the next day, I went to my office as usual and grabbed some cash out of the safe, I gave my general manager my phone with instructions on what to do when my wife called. I did not tell him where I was going, just that I was. I went to Panama City Beach. My first and only visit there.
“I guess that’s the really nice thing about disappearing: the part where people look for you and beg you to come home.” ― Lauren Oliver
My leaving was a cry for help. I loved my wife, she was my world. I just wanted her to want me again. After a few days, several conversations with our counselor, and prayer, I returned. This was simply a mechanical exercise. Two weeks after my return, we were strangers raising two wonderful kids again. We continued seeking counseling to try and save our marriage. As we continued tumbling down the distance hole, the chasm between us grew larger. She buried herself in activities with the kids and social events, I began working 16 hours per day, and eventually 7 days per week. We lost one another forever back then. A year later there was a major theft in my business and we lost everything. Eventually whatever held us together no longer existed. Depression, anxiety, and a cold breeze that always seemed present finally was enough. Two people who once pledged their lives to one another would now go separate ways.
“We are not lonely, because we chose to be alone. We are not lost, because we chose to disappear” ― Steven John Wilson
I remember the day I left. As I drove down our street I felt so empty, so lost, and so unloved. It took years for these feelings to change enough to feel I had any value at all. There are days when I feel I have no worth at all. Belonging to someone, being a part of an intact family, and knowing who I was… They were all gone. Now there was only me. A small me in a huge, cold, self centered world. O was so lost and afraid. Fear is not something that was normal for me. I was me and I always find a way to win. I just did. Now, there were no knowns, no exacts, and no core person in my life. I fell so hard for the first person I met. I’ve been told that’s common. I have struggled to be a part of someone, to belong again, to matter to someone the way I felt I did back then. After 5 ½ years, I no longer feel certain that will ever happen. I ask myself, what’s next? The last time I asked myself that, I left, I vanished, I ran away…
“People abandoned one another constantly without performing the courtesy of of actually disappearing. They left, but didn’t, lurking about, a constant reminder of what could or should have been” ― Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
In 4 days I will be standing in that same lane at the auction, looking, hoping, and dreaming. Escape from reality may work this time. My reality isn’t what I want, it’s much lonelier than people who know me believe. It’s like standing in a large room that had the furniture taken out of it. The cho in the room reminds me there is nothing there but me. The echo reminds me that what was once a flourishing and happy place, now is just an empty place. The echo haunts me. My camper won’t have an echo, it will just be a rolling home that allows me to fill my life again. To fill my life with new sights, experiences, and people along the way. Will it be enough? Will I actually do it?
“If we find we have wings, perhaps fate is asking us to fly” – k stepp
Today it’s simply a dream, a fantasy. I have friends, I have people who mean so much to me. But no matter who is around or what I am doing. In my mind I am always in that big room with nothing else. My own heartbeat is so loud that the echo comes from it. It reminds me of a time when there were two hearts beating together in a warmer room. Only this time, it’s just me, one heart beating, the echo ridiculing me, telling me someone is not here.
“Life tells us when our future holds our best or the bitterness of knowing our best is behind us now” – k stepp