We headed down the street away from the schools, talking about which way we'd go and what our target destination would be. We snapped a few pictures and said good bye to our friends who barely made it back to school in time for the bell.
We contemplated how long it would take them to all realize we were gone, for them to think something was amiss, as we wandered through residential streets ducking behind cars and around bushes whenever a car would pass.. cause you know, people would actually notice us. We were on our way to the bike trail. We figured following the trail would be longer and slower, but would keep us a bit more out of site. I think we all reveled a bit in the drama and danger of it all.. Obviously we each had our own thrill-seeking streak, and if anything, had a desire for attention.
"So how much money do we have?"
Everyone checked pockets and wallets and such..
"That makes about what.. $10?.... Great."
"I have about $80 at home."
"Where do you live?"
"Over off Main."
"Naw.. that's too far. It's the opposite way we're going."
"Yeah, but wouldn't it be good to have the money?"
"I'm sure we could find other ways to get some money.."
I tried not to think too hard about that one.
I had $2.25 with me. I'd brought it to get a snack after band. Band. I almost wished that I'd brought my clarinet with me.. but playing on my own just wasn't the same. Strange how I missed it already. Aside from my poetry/song notebooks that I'd started writing, playing music was my only escape. I felt like I could lose myself a little. Let go and get lost in the music. I'd feel as if I was floating away, life didn't matter.. it was just me and the music.. Some pieces would bring me to the verge of tears and I'd have a hard time holding back the emotion that would well up inside me - I was so relieved that the other kids had their eyes on the music and the band director and not on me. I thought of the piano in the living room at home. Thought of quiet afternoons, when my brothers were off at sports and work and my parents working.. and I could sit at the piano and plunk out some Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata and Romeo and Juliet.. make up my own little tunes to go with the songs I'd write. Megan and Patty and I had talked about starting a band together.. I laughed a little to myself.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing." I pulled my walkman out of my backpack and plopped in my Temple of the Dog cassette. I turned it on and within 5 minutes my batteries started to die.
"Anyone have any AA's?"
"Why don't you just sing, Megan." Patty asked.
I kept us all amused by belting out anything that sounded decent a capella, while they kept busy thinking up songs and helping me out by giving me the first line. I lost count of how many times they asked me to sing No Rain from Blind Melon. I can't think of any other songs that I so easily related to at that time and just felt all through me (side from, perhaps, I Wonder.. see previous post).
We walked along the bike trail and they discussed how they would ration cigarettes and tried to think of people who had cars that we could get rides from. Baby, the most experienced runaway of the group, seemed to have the most connections and the most ideas. She had an uncle that we'd stay the night with and some older guy 'friend' that had a covered pick-up that we could call in the morning and arrange a ride... and perhaps some weed.
The plan began to unfold...
Apparently we were heading for Canada. Canada?? Since, word has it, you can work at 15 in Canada.. and since Baby was already 15 and a couple others were nearly 15, they could get jobs. Of course, hair cuts and hair dye were in order.. and the idea of splitting up came up as well. It was quickly thrown out.
"Well, they'll be looking for 7 kids.. that's pretty conspicuous. We could split up and figure out somewhere to reconnect.."
"I agree. No. We need to stick together.."
That was settled.
We came to the first bridge along the bike trail and squatted under it for a while, resting our feet and talking plans. We shared what small bits of food and drink we had on us and talked about which way we needed to go next. Cigarettes were shared and it became pretty obvious who was going to 'hook up'. Naturally, the subject of 'who's a virgin' came up. Nearly all of us were. It was becoming quite obvious that I was going to end up the '5th wheel' in the group.. I was actually ok with it for once. Alika and I had already 'dated' (in the 8th grader sense of hanging out behind the locker rooms kissing after class but not actually going on dates since no one had a car.. or drove for that matter), and while I would have been more than happy to get back with him, I knew he had NO interest. He'd lost that when he realized he couldn't get in my pants. I'd had the reputation of being the 'good girl' for quite some time already, not in the goody-two-shoes sense, just more straight and narrow than the others. Sure, I was practically a professional when it came to shoplifting (a skill they looked forward to putting to 'good' use), but they all knew I was Christian, they all knew I didn't smoke or do drugs, and while they knew it wasn't for fear of getting in trouble but more out of respect for my body, they just saw me as 'the good one'. I anticipated a long and lonely relationship with this group.
"We better hit the trail if we want to make it to Uncle Herb's before dark.."