Posted by: canaryinacoalmine | June 6, 2005

Take a Year Off

10 years have past and I am neither in shock or awe but disbelief that 10 years really do pass that quickly. 10 years ago I thought I was invincible and knew the late nights I spent smoking pot – were just a stage, my senior in high school stage. I graduated early (dork) packed up my car and headed out to California. Retro had just come back in style, Jerry Garcia died shortly there after. I still don’t know what I was after or even why I went, I only knew I had to go. It was a calling, the smoke signal in the sky. The plans to leave home and venture out on my own with no plan or to do list there after were made. My departure date was set and circled in big red marker on my kitchen calendar, the pink elephant in the room. I had to believe I really could do this.

Every day my to do list got smaller and then it became stagnant. I woke up on a Thursday, that’s all I remember, it was Thursday and I decided that was the day. I packed up and said good-bye to my mother in a parking lot. She knew I was “the freespirit” of the family and was afraid if she kept me to herself I would break losing what she loved in me. She let me run off for my own adventure handing me a cell phone (back then they were as big as your head), cases of water, food, then she kicked my tires. I love you – don’t forget that. Lock your doors. Call me ….. Tears streamed down her face as I pulled away, her arms crossed clutching her chest and a cross around her neck. I can’t imagine the terror she was feeling watching her 18 year old daughter pull away with such determination. I thought I was invincible, I still kind of do. I toured up and down route 66 talking to people I knew I shouldn’t have, was accosted by truck drivers, ran from the truck drivers, had lunch with strangers, listened to someone’s granddad’s stories for 4 hours at a diner in Oklahoma, called the cops on a rape in an alley, broke down on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, then I hit water and landed in San Diego. In retrospect I was lucky to not have ended up a statistic. Every sunset and sunrise I see is the angel sitting on my shoulder, I still kiss her good night when I turn out the lights.

After I arrived in California I enjoyed it all. Bonfires on the beach, me a flowing skirt, the homeless man named Shelley and my runaway friend Sam. I still wonder what happened to Sam. I have dreamt he returned to his family and is now living in New York or Boston. About once a year I will be walking out of a hospital or shaking a neurosurgeons hand and see a glimpse of Sam. Someone with the familiar smile and gait – a glimpse of Sam, his free spirit, and zest for life. We were young, idealistic, and naive. We fantasized about all the cities we would travel to and visit. We floated during these conversations high on the clouds and lost in our dreams. We had almost mastered it, living on the beach in San Diego. Heck, I lived in my car for a couple weeks after the man I was renting a room from kissed me on the cheek and taunted, “I’ll lower your rent if you do special things around the house.” I moved into my car that night and spent three weeks there before finding refuge.
I took an entire year off from responsibilities that year . . . to just be and understand the value and difference of others. Learning the true power of a hand shake and learning I can’t always trust everyone, fortunately I still do.

After that year, I always knew it would just be a year, regardless of how aloof I was at the time. It was always going to be only 1 year. After the year was up, I stayed in California and went to college. And now 10 years later – a lot has happened. I moved to Austin then Houston, have come close to killing myself on my bike, have run miles on end, shed tears, lots of laughter, had my heart broken, fallen head over heels in love, watched my siblings marry and have children, have an incredible job, and of course never forgetting the most amazing people I have in my life. I am lucky to have a lot and never forget their value. You all truly amaze me every day. Weather it be juggling children, life, school, new ventures, relationships, music & acting careers, or your amazing ability to persevere with a smile. Thank – you for being you.

I apologize for the sappiness of this post; I was recently reminded of how fragile life really is and can’t go another day with out letting you all know I adore your guts.


  1. Loved the post. 🙂

  2. an amazing and descriptive post. i’m afraid i can’t relate at all (i never was a free spirit), so this truly fascinates me.
    thanks for sharing another piece of your life.

  3. It there was a little more sappiness in the world that might not be a bad thing.

  4. Loved this one!

  5. For those of us who don’t know you, what is your default mood if it is not sappy?

  6. I have always been told I am very happy go lucky. I am pretty much exactly like I right, well maybe a little more caustic.

  7. What is caustic about you? I never would have guessed that.

  8. caustic as in sarcastic

  9. What are some examples of this is what I meant, silly.


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