Sunday Prose: The Walk Away

The Walk Away
Even a casual observer watching me on that last day of high school in 1972, might have easily surmised from my body language alone as I hid in the shadows on that bright sunny morning, awkwardly standing there feeling insecure and listening to classmates talk about their college plans, plans I didn’t have, that my journey from that day forward was going to be a difficult one.

I lingered well after most everyone else left, so I doubt anyone noticed my hippy hating English teacher grabbing my yearbook and flashing me an evil, little double eyed wink after she scribbled ‘good luck’ under the ‘least likely to succeed’ heading.

That was my final high school memory and as
little enthusiasm as I had walking into that
dreary building during those four years,
I wasn’t in much of a hurry to leave either.
Bushwick High School and The Public Library

That long, slow walk home was nothing more than a detour to somehow delay the inevitable, an aimless but purposeful distraction from the yawning unknown. I do remember tossing the cap and scratchy maroon gown in a corner trash can somewhere along the way but not much else, not the route or what time it was when I finally looked up and saw the familiar Roman font, the peeling, two thirty two handpainted in faux gold leaf and outlined in black on the inside of the thick leaded glass above the entry doors.

The graduation ceremony ended around 11am and it was dark when I finally, reluctantly put my key in the glitchy lock of the heavy oak door to our four story, walkup tenement building that breezeless summer night, standing there motionless, not really wanting to turn the key.

I was a 17 year old, long haired, half stoned hippy who wanted nothing more than to be an artist, trying to survive in a nowheresville neighborhood buried somewhere deep in the bowels of Brooklyn with no prospects, no plans, no money and not much of an education either.

Opening that door was the last thing I wanted to do.

I wasn’t given much to work with as a kid, on Welfare after a traumatic divorce when I was twelve and as hungry as we were the last week of every month, survival until the next check arrived was our sudden priority.

A decent student before my parents divorced, I never really recovered, not from the shocking move from our tidy, two cars in the driveway middle class life on Long Island and not from the shame that we were now on Public Assistance, which was polite talk for Welfare then. Trauma and hunger are a toxic burden for a kid, a terrible way to begin class in a brand new school in a neighborhood that bore absolutely no resemblance to anything I’d known.

Everything around me, the dirty, dilapidated neighborhood, the drugs, the alchohol and violence I and everyone else lived with, only confirmed a life most likely destined for failure. No one who knew me then at 17, my parents, classmates, friends or my English teacher would have been at all surprised if I joined most of my neighborhood friends who were either drug dealers, street addicts, in jail or dead by the end of that first summer following graduation.

Even Lola who was the valedictorian of our class and my loving soulsister during that last year, even Lola, the poet priestess who I wrote about in summer of sorrow, who recieved a full scholarship to Vassar took up with an alchoholic and never did attend Vassar or any college, breaking my heart twice by summer’s end.

There was not a single reason to,
but I had dreams of better days even then. Why?

I can’t explain why there was a spark, any spark at all in a soul that absorbed and witnessed as much I did or why I dared to believe my life might possibly be any different than anyone else I knew. Maybe it was the artist in me who dwelled in the imaginary, maybe it was the hallucenogins still in my system or maybe it was just plain fear seeding visions in my head after spending six years with a half empty belly, the fear of watching so many people with so much promise disappear into the muck.

People I knew daydreamed about becoming rich, I just wanted to escape my neighborhood alive.

Of course, this would have been a perfect time for a serious sitdown with a caring father, for a heart to heart talk between a dad and his son to pass on some wisdom, maybe some advice to put his rudderless kid on the right path. But I was already one year removed from deciding in court,not to ever see my father again.

He was happily, already long gone by graduation day.

The year prior, the Family Court judge mandated I spend a summer vacation with him in the house that still contained all our furniture he wouldn’t send us, the house he could somehow afford yet could never pay child support, the house we had to escape his death threats from, the house that reminded me of everything I never wanted to remember. I spent the entire summer walking as far away as possible from that house from the moment I woke up until late at night, when I would tiptoe back to my old bedroom.

He noticed my boots were completely worn out,
the soles had come loose so we went to a
local shoe store and he bought me a new pair,
and he complained about how expensive they
were as we drove home in his blue Cadillac
Coupe with them still in the box on my lap,
as I sank deeper into the white leather seat
with every word.

When I left quietly the next morning, the unopened box and my old boots were next to each other on the floor beside my bed. I walked barefoot that day, my first act of defiance in a life of submission and constant fear.

My father wasn’t educated but he was perceptive, perceptive enough to know when he turned on the flourescent light in the kitchen that night as I tried to slip into my bedroom unnoticed, as his veins began their slow bulge in his forehead. He knew when he looked at me with those raging eyes, as I held his gaze like I never did before unflinching as I stood my ground in my bare feet on the cool linoleum floor. He knew in that stare that seemed to last forever, that this encounter would alter the trajectory of our lives, that whatever was before was not to be again.

I was prepared to get pounded, he saw the determination in my eyes and that I was absolutely going to get back up and get back up again, if that’s what it took. How ever this was going to end, it was going to end that night with me being free from his tyranny, one way or another.

There was a tranquility that washed through me as l let go of the fear, I was there but not quite and I’m not sure if I would have felt pain in the state I was in, a lightness that I had never experienced before and it was evident, evident in my eyes and his that he knew I was already free.

He turned, flipped off the light and left me standing there in the dark as he walked away.

58 thoughts on “Sunday Prose: The Walk Away

  1. annotating60 says:

    WT, that was quite the piece. I trust you’ve left it all behind. It is always good to get it out. I’ve not been where yuou were but I had my own form of hell to deal with and it took sometime but in the end you’re the quarterback and the first rule of the game is always protect the quarterback, even if you’re the only one on the team. I used to think I was damaged goods. But I realized that afterall it just made me a better person and in a strange twist of fate I think it made me a poet of sorts. I learned to just block not the memories but the people responsible out of my life as thjough theyu never existed .It’s almost a zen thing with me now. You only get to piss on me once and then you simply don’t exist anymore as far as I’m concerned. Sounds harsh but it gets easier to fill your life with positive people when you just get rid of rthe negative ones, even if all you’re left with is two or three, you’re still better off. Well it’s been a long night and I’m about to call it over. Take care. Oh I forgot to tell you, your prose style is really good. A pleasure to read even if the material is painful. Best >KB

    • good morning KB, ty so much for such an invested and heartfelt reaction to this
      recollection of mine. i agree with everything you’ve so eloquently written here,
      time is too precious a commodity to me now, to spend on judgemental people, i’m
      no longer the glutton for punishment i was when i was younger, trying to fit
      in where i didn’t, trying to be accepted when i knew i really wasn’t.

      it all changed for me when i met Scout, finally after 46 years i was accepted
      with all my flaws and imperfections without judgement, and loved for who i was
      and who i wasn’t. it’s why i will never tire of writing about her, how could i?

      and yes. i have resolved, if not fully healed from all that happened as a kid,
      i have my scars and my moments of vulnerability. and though i was damaged, i
      don’t view myself as ‘damaged goods’ anymore as i always did. i have a bottomless
      well of material now to draw upon, to learn from , to share with others who have
      experienced similar childhoods or abuse. i’m a stronger person for overcoming
      what i did, all in all, not a bad tradeoff.

      actually, i began writing these stories 3 years ago, as self therapy on a website
      i belonged to. folks kept asking for more and more, the reaction and encouragement
      i recieved is the genesis of all the writing i do now. much like it is here at WP.
      and it’s why i try and be very generous with my praise when i read my friend’s work
      here on WP, if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement, i know i wouldn’t be writing.

      my sincere thanks to you KB, for always being here when it really matters and offering your wisdom and keen insight. it matters a great deal to me that you enjoy my writing.

  2. Bastet says:

    great write here…have known some of what you wrote so eloquently here about, and I’m happy you moved on. The first step, is leaving the fear behind.and the second is getting out of the resentment..the road is uphill, not everyone makes it, glad you did.

    • hi Bastet, ty and very warm welcome to you this morning!

      yes, you are so right and in that order too, this is the moment
      i began to lose the fear, the lingering like glue resentment was
      more of an uphill battle for me. but i never gave up trying, trying
      to learn the why, the how and now it’s gone. and it’s one of the reasons
      beside ‘love’, that ‘never giving up’ is my most used tag. so much of
      my writing is about renewal and not giving up, because we just can’t.

      ty for being here today, i really do appreciate it. peace.

      • Bastet says:

        peace to you too, it’s been good hearing from you and my pleasure to have dropped by and been so warmly welcomed…have yourself a good one.

      • i truly appreciate when folks take the time to leave
        a sincere, heartfelt reaction, a warm welcome is the
        least i can do to say ty. have a wonderful day Bastet!

  3. Dearest brother. Your brilliant muse was a seed protecting you through those terrible times. She kept your words safe, so that you could have them when you were ready to fly. She held your gentle and loving, sensitive heart beating between her tiny fingers, knowing that you would let her grow, when the time came. You have overcome your past (as much as anyone ever can), released your muse and your words pour forth to heal the wounds of others. I’m so happy for you and so proud of what you have become. xxoo Sis

    • geez…i had to step away for a bit, compose myself….
      you are so right Sis, i’ve always had a guardian angel,
      she is a she, because a ‘she’ has always arrived when
      i was in my darkest hour, when i needed a hand, a shoulder,
      a lesson. i idolize the ‘she’ among us, like you who are
      by your nature nurturing and protective and loving.

      yes, my muse is a she, and always will be. ty, ty, ty.

  4. It must have been really hard. But I sincerely hope, you have moved on, finding peace in your life. Thank you for sharing your story. šŸ™‚

    • good morning anmo, and you are most welcome. ty for taking the time
      to read it and leave such a wonderful comment. yes, i won’t lie, it’s
      been a long road, but i’m here, almost whole, and loved and creating.
      i feel blessed to have so much, after having so little.

      have yourself a wonderful day anmo, peace.

  5. dawnhosking says:

    I have felt that release of fear and know the light feeling of liberation — it has always felt good šŸ˜‰

    • i’m glad you have Dawn, the release of the burdensome weight of fear is quite amazing,
      we are not the same people, thankfully once that happens, everything becomes transformed.

      i just got a very happy message from teardrops of ink,
      she is basking in the traffic being sent to her blog.
      ty for that, i always thought her amazing poetry deserved
      a much wider audience.

      • dawnhosking says:

        It is a life changing experience for sure.

        I am so glad that Teardrops is getting more visitors too — she is very talented.

  6. wunderwench says:

    You had me in tears at the end. I find myself very proud of that young man standing up to his tyrannical father. Breaking the chains of abuse is never easy. Tight hugs to that brave boy you once were and the brilliant man you have become.

  7. I always have tears in my eyes at the end of your story, and I am speechless that’s why I never know what to say. Breaking the circle of abuse is the first step towards freedom. You have every right to be so proud of yourself to overcome most the bad memories and writing so beautifully about them. I learn a lot about life from you and it has given me a lot of understanding about the pains of some of my dearest friends. Thank you for being such an inspiration for me. Take care and God bless.

    • oh saminaiqbal27, you are so sweet to leave such a loving and supportive comment
      like this, ty. ty for taking the time to read this difficult truth of mine, and
      yes you are so right that ending the abuse is the first step to freedom. and i have.
      and though the journey has been a long one, i’ve come through, i have my family,
      i’m loved and i’m creating. LIFE is GOOD, and maybe i appreciate each moment more
      because of my history, appreciate that what i have, is all i need.

      i’m sending love and hugs to you, my dear friend, ty for being here.

  8. This is why you are a wonderful writer. I think some of the best written material comes from a place of misfortune and pain. I am sorry for what you went through, but as a reader I thank you sharing a story that I could not stop reading.

    • hi mishunderstood, ty so much for taking the time to leave such a warm and
      encouraging message. i really do appreciate it. and you are right, our
      troubles usually heighten our senses, hopefully in the sharing it might
      help others to not feel so alone.

  9. SirenaTales says:

    Master Who, As much as a sense of profound sadness has weighed on me as I read your powerful piece, my overriding sense is one of triumph and awe. After all of that nightmare you lived through and now so vividly depict, you stood your ground. You and the boy you were embody the breathtaking magnificence of what a person can be and can stand for. My heart goes out to you, as I cheer you on. Yes, I cheer you on. Much love and peace….

    • oh Sirena, i am profoundly happy to have you in my corner, we all have our
      stories, a history that has made us who we are today. i don’t wear this
      history on my sleeve as i once did, aand today there is just so much to
      be thankful for. sending you love and warm hugs tonight, ty so much.

  10. Beautifully written and touching. Thank you for sharing

  11. lumar1298 says:

    What an accomplishment to get out… Been there… Lots of love and blessings…

    • lumar, ty so much, i truly appreciate you taking the time to read this story of mine,
      and for leaving such a thoughtful comment. hoping ‘been there’ means that you got out too.

      sending love and blessings your way as well. peace.

  12. Thank you my friend for sharing some of your truth with us. Your writing is like a beautiful flower that has sprung forth through the mud and muck of a painful childhood.

    That moment of freedom you described so well. I have a similar memory involving my mother.

    Past can be a wearisome beast so I’m so glad to see you slay it with words.

    Love and Hugs

    • Melanie, my sweet friend, when you shared your truth with me, it gave me
      the courage to share mine with you. ty for that, and that we both have
      overcome such overwhelming obstacles in our lives.

      may it continue for us both, Love and Hugs to you,

  13. arranbhansal says:

    Beautifully written my friend. You do capture the imagination.


    • i appreciate your kindness arranbhansal
      , this was a bit of a tough memory to recall,
      but there’s been enough distance now that i was
      able to concentrate more on getting the words
      and atmosphere just right.

  14. just too sad for you to say anything except you turned out wonderfully into a kind brilliant person.

  15. kalabalu says:

    the worst battle is fought with loved ones turning into angry enemies, and easiest with strangers, for nothing is lost in latter and everything is at stake in former. Time and again, this yoyo of tug appears and disappear in life, sometimes we win and don’t feel like smiling and others we are bashed and hope for a recovery. hatred, is a force that brings up vengeance and brutality, a fear pounds in heart..we seldom escape that eerie feeling even after we are safe.

  16. InfiniteZip says:

    This could have been me, and was…wow….memories…written so heartfelt, truth in life:) kudos.i bet even then you had words to keep you sane:)

    • hi InfiniteZip, ty for rummaging around the attic, i thought i heard a noise up there! lol sorry to hear we shared similar childhood experiences, but we came through so good on us! and actually i didn’t, i’m fond of saying words were never my vocabulary until i began writing cathartic short stories like this one 2 years ago, and poetry last year. my dream and early training was to be a painter,
      i thought in ‘images’, not words.

      so i have a headful of images and stories to tell. i’ll be posting another tomorrow (a little prose) while i work on 3 co write poems. ty for taking the time to read and share your comment, have a wonderful day InfiniteZip!

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