Running is Not for Cowards
That day, I got in a stranger’s car and left-forever. It wasn’t a difficult move. In retrospect I guess it was dangerous, I guess some might have said it was reckless. But it was the choice that brought me here, to this point, to this life I have now. The journey started when I was 16. I was running away from home and it was the most important thing I’ve ever done.
Up to that age my life was divided into sections like an orange. There was the bit where my mother was out of the mental hospital and we lived with her. In that bit we lived on welfare and free school lunches, and when her dark days arrived, she kept us in the house with the windows closed and the doors locked until someone noticed and came and saved us.
There was the bit when we stayed with my father, a long distance truck driver who was gone all week, only home on the weekends. On the weekends he’d hire a babysitter. Sometimes she’d last a week or two, sometimes she’d disappear midweek and we’d have to see how to get through until Saturday when my father came back again.
And then there was the last bit. Maybe the most difficult bit. The bit where my father thought marrying one of the babysitters might solve the problem and instead threw us into a real-life fairy tale with the sticking-to-script wicked stepmother but no happily ever after at the end. My father started coughing in August and was dead by March. I realised quickly I needed to make a decision. I knew without a move, I would be sucked in and lost for ever. I wouldn’t let that happen. I had plans for my life.
So that morning I packed my schoolbag with what I could and got on the school bus, but I never went to school that day. I walked to the highway. I got a lift with a stranger, an old man who had to make a stop on the way to feed some cats. A man who asked me many questions about where I was going that I answered with lies he was able to smile about and accept. I got in his car and set off on the journey leading to my life. The one defined by me. I was tired of being the victim of circumstances I didn’t create. I was not born to be a victim.
I think running away gets a lot of bad press. Don’t listen to all of the Oprah-speak about how you can’t run away from your problems. I’m proof that it’s a lie. You can. I ran and ran again -and here I am, thousands and thousands of miles away from where I started. I live in Botswana, in a quiet village, with my new family, the one created by me. I hesitate to say I’m happy because for me happiness is not a goal, it’s a by-product. A by-product of living your own life, the one specifically designed for you. In that sense, I did find happiness along the road to finding my purpose.
Running is gutsy too. Don’t accept the hype.
Lauri Kubuitsile is an award winning, full time writer living in Botswana. Her short stories have been published on four continents and she has 14 published works of fiction, primarily for children. She’s also written six textbooks, two television series and numerous radio scripts. She has twice won first place in Africa’s prize for children’s writing, The Golden Baobab. Most recently she was shortlisted for the 2011 Caine Prize. Her latest books are a YA book, Signed, Hopelessly in Love (Tafelberg, Aug 2011) and a romance novella, Mr Not Quite Good Enough (Sapphire Press, July 2011). She was born in the United States, but is a citizen of Botswana. She’s married with two teenage children. She blogs at Thoughts from Botswana
Thank you Lauri for sharing this very moving and “Gutsy” part of your life.
As you can see, each story is very different and “Gutsy” in its own way. We shall select one a week and feature it on Monday. Please comment, and the more comments a story receives, the more likely it is to be selected as the “winner” of the month.
At the end of each month, we shall run a poll so everyone can vote for their favorite “My Gutsy Story” of the month.
To submit your own, “My Gutsy Story” you can find all the information, and our sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story” contest page.
Thank you to those who have already submitted your “My Gutsy Story” to Gutsy Living. We are saving them for future posts and have five sponsors for November. We shall be getting more exciting sponsors in the future.
Questions? Comments? Please share, and Lauri will check back to respond.