I first got the idea to write this post while watching The Office. It was the scene where Michael is talking to Jan about the fact that he is broke, sees a train in the distance and runs out of the office to jump on the train and run away. It was delayed a day because of the snow and then yesterday I read a graphic novel for work and it turned out to be about a kid who runs away from home and rides the rails with hoboes during the depression. I guess it was meant to be.
I grew up in a town with train tracks going through downtown. There were times growing up when things would not be great that hopping on a train and running away to part unknown seemed like a good idea. I didn’t plan to live a life on the rails. I didn’t want to run into actual hobos. You could say that I am a bit of a hobophobe. I just thought that starting a new life where no one knew me seemed better than continuing life where I was. I never did hop a train out of town. I did eventually leave town via college.
There have been various times since I left my hometown where I have had similar thoughts. At these points, though, I had a car so I didn’t dream of hopping on a train. I dreamed of packing a small bag and driving aimlessly until settling on a town where no one knew me. Of course, I always assumed these scenarios would end well. I would find a new town, not too big, not too small, where people would accept a strange outsider. I would find a new job and life would be good.
It took me a while to realize that I was trying to run away from the one thing I can’t escape – myself. It wouldn’t matter that I was in a new town with possibly a new name. It wouldn’t matter that no one there knew me. It wouldn’t matter that, in theory, I could be whoever I wanted to be. Deep down, I would still be me and that is something I could never escape.