Running away: From the track to real life, it's a habit to break
Jessica Lange said something in an interview once that struck me as astonishingly insightful. It so resonated with me when I read it that I typed it out and pinned it on my bulletin board. She said, “There have been so many lives that have begun and ended within my life, I think of them not as periods in my life but as actual individual life times.”
I know exactly what she means. Within my own life (almost 56 years) … here’s one of mine.
Some families played baseball or volleyball. We Herrington’s ran track. Running was a part of our life, it ran in our genes. In summer, we ran hurdles along Caplen beach on the Bolivar peninsula. At home, we ran relays around the block, which was a distance of exactly one quarter of a mile.
Once my father suggested that just my oldest brother and I race. When I won by a hair, I was jubilant. So seemed my father. But when I saw the expression on my brother’s face, suddenly, I felt awful. Like I’d done something wrong and much worse … I’d hurt my brother.
Somehow in all that running, we got it mixed up in real life. When my parents had an argument, daddy got in his car and drove to the farm. When my oldest brother threw a glass bottle into the windshield of a moving vehicle, my parents drove him to a prep school. When things went south in my sister and brother-in-law’s life, they packed up their family and moved to another city.
And when doo-doo hit the fan in my life, I did no differently.
Walk don't run
Mama had died and so had my marriage, but I was far from realizing that I was in a heap of pain. I was running and fast, from just about anyone close to me. I’d moved out of my home with my husband (Todd) into an apartment in Houston where I immersed myself in a public relations job at Macy’s.
I felt exactly what I wanted. Nothing.
One cold, drizzly night, Todd drove into town and we met at a bar for drinks. After a few hours and more than enough wine, my soon to be ex-husband was suggesting that I follow him back to the house and spend the night with him. I didn’t hesitate. Familiarity sounded comforting. What followed was anything but.
It was like being in space capsule and flying through a meteor shower. In reality, I was behind the wheel of my car driving down the northwest freeway like a bat out of hell I was.
I was angry about not being able to make mother well, at my family for hardly helping me with the mission and angry that I was driving home with someone who hadn’t been supportive at all until after she died. The angrier I got, the closer my foot got to the floor.
For 20 treacherous miles, I drove as if I was shaking my fist at the Creator, daring Him to take me. I’d reached the turn off where the remaining fours miles was a long narrow farm road with an S-curve at the end.
When it came into view, I took it with a vengeance, causing my car to spin out of control. In a split second I gripped the steering wheel and then, let it go. The reflection of the headlights in the brush shot back like a flash bulb.
Like Dorothy’s house spinning inside the tornado and abruptly landing, so did my car ... nose down in a ditch. Miraculously, I opened the door and climbed out.
When Todd drove up, I saw the terror on his face. He didn’t say much. Only that, “All I could think of was how in the world am I gonna tell your daddy that he’s now lost his daughter.”
Using a chain from the back of his pickup, Todd hooked on to my car and pulled it out of the ditch. He followed close behind as I drove on to the farm as cautiously as though driving through a flood. Not a scratch on the car, myself, or anyone else thank God, but feeling on the inside ... totaled.
I’m not proud of this “individual lifetime” but looking back, it seemed necessary.
I left Todd the next morning with humility and great gratitude for a lot of things. I remembered something that mother had told me a week before she died. “When you find yourself getting too angry, re-chart your course.” I didn’t run from anything again after that.
I walked … through and eventually out. Learning the difference was huge.