Wide open spaces of wheat fields. Infinite stretches of gravel roads graced by vehicles and horses alike. One channel on the radio, two on the T.V if you were lucky. No stores. No access. Just rules to shake you from your day dreams, and the ominous horn of the 4am train to wake your from your nocturnal escape.
The Canadian Prairies of my childhood.
I first tried to run away from home when I was 5. It was short lived as you would expect, but I never stopped trying to run away, to jump on a train, or to find my place that I felt I wanted to stay. Then I tried to put myself into the box of what I thought I was supposed to be like. My depression intensified to the point of suffocation, and hardly making it out alive, I ran away again.
This time, my escape plan worked and I realized something that I had never thought of before: what if some of us don't belong anywhere?
We had one movie store in our town, and when I was given the rare priviledge of picking a movie, I would would almost always rent Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. It's a 1992 Disney movie about a girl who runs away from home during the depression and joins a traveling circus show. It still is one of my ultimate coveted movies, and is one of the 3 DVD's I packed in my suitcase when I left for good. Stumbling upon that movie was like hearing a whisper from some other force, like the ones who came before me were giving me a sign. Cowboys, showgirls, explorers, Captains - they all run through my blood; beings who cannot stay in one place for too long. My dad hopped trains during the 1970's. He started in Halifax and months later landed in Vancouver. He recently told me that though he eventually "settled down in to a family life" his heart never lost it's fuel to get up and go. It pained him to be in one place. When I told him I was hitting the road and taking one bag with me, he got a little shimmer in his eye, handed me a generous amount of money and told me to never doubt that feeling.
Listen to it.
My dad is still just a circus kid.
When an open highway is more exciting to you than a perfectly planned itinerary, you're a circus heart. If you feel serene sleeping alone on a beach in northern Canada beneath the elusive Northern Lights, you're a circus heart. If you want every day to be unknown and in your own hands without answering to anyone, you're a circus heart. If you still want the same things you wanted when you were a lonely kid growing up in the middle of nowhere, then you're a circus heart.
The greatest and truest friends I have ever made were all the ones who are backstage in a flurry of makeup and glitter. In among the costumes and scents of cinnamon and vanilla, I found refuge. And even though this family is ever changing and never around for more than a few acts, I would still frame their photos and hang them proudly - that is if I wanted a actual home to hang them in, but I don't!
The unknown road life isn't for everyone - it's intertwined with societal life in a very up close yet detached way, and not many people desire it, but I'm the happiest I've ever been in my entire life and I finally feel at home, because when I joined the circus I realized that home isn't a singular place. It's a feeling. A miraculous event occurred when I came to realize I haven't been depressed since I decided to leave.
I was in severe mourning and didn't even know it. It took running after a train that had an indefinitely unknown destination to turn my all black apparel into a brilliantly colored and lustrous stage wardrobe my showgirl aunts would be proud of.