Last Ride

The threshold sent the flyaways in my hair dancing, as I stepped onto the airplane. My life was packed in my backpack and every piece of clothing I had was being thrown into the luggage compartment below. I looked at no one as I took my seat by the window.

Ruled by every emotion and feeling I'd ever felt, today I'd cut it off with maybe the most self control I'd ever exercised.

I'd lived on airplanes my whole life, flying back and forth between my parents. My most intimate moments played out in busy airport terminals for the world to see. People would stare, as I tried not to cry because when I cried more tears poured down dad's face. Clutching my sister's hand in mine, I'd drag her down the jetway because one of us had to; leaving a man in the terminal, who'd lean against the glass window until we were in the air when he'd cave from the blow of the twin engines and cry until he could barely walk a straight line back through the airport.

I hated these flying death traps. Forced to ride them since I was four, I'd be damned if anyone was ever going to force me on one again. This would be my last ride.

At the beginning of that summer, dad had asked me to come home like always. I'd declined. My anxiety had grown so out of control that I stayed holed up in my room, avoiding crowds and strangers. I'd even dropped out of high school. In the past two years, I'd been back home to Georgia less than two weeks total.

My sister flew out to Colorado instead, to visit me for two weeks. She'd walked around the baggage claim and back into my life in Lucky blue jeans, with highlights in her blond hair. Never will she be more beautiful to me than she was that summer. The girl who used to cry herself to sleep, couldn't stop laughing. It was a laugh that took me back to carefree summers on dad's farm. There was a peace about her that twisted my heart into knots. It was a foreign fusion of jealousy and relief watching the girl who I loved more than anyone ever; the one who'd once passed out at my feet with a stomach full of sleeping pills, her life slipping away fast, now incapable of containing a happiness I feared would forever allude me.

Two weeks later saying goodbye to Kim, I suppressed the urge to jump in her bag and go home with her. Home. I wanted to go home. Forgetting all my reasons for staying, I picked up the phone and dialed the number I'd known by heart since I was 3.

This time, I was clutching a one-way ticket. And this time, the gut-wrenching goodbye had been to my teary-eyed mother who'd begged me to stay, and to whom I'd finally said the words I'd always wanted to say, "I'm never coming back."

This time, there were no tears in my eyes. My life had been a roller coaster ride I'd never wanted to ride. And this was where I got off. All the therapy and psychiatric medicines hadn't been able to fix me. Every punch I'd ever been blown, I'd absorbed like sheet metal in a hailstorm. I was indented and caving in on myself.

This was my last chance.

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