My mother remarried when I was eleven. This caused us to move to a new part of the city and I was enrolled in a new school. Pattern and routine had been my security blanket throughout my parent’s separation and subsequent divorce. Now, I was given a new pattern and a new routine, but both were too new to be considered either.
I was also given a house bigger than I ever imagined. I was accustomed to sharing a one bedroom with my mom. Everything we owned was within our eyesight at any given time. Now, there were closets that took me months to find a need to open.
My stepfather was (and still is) a strict nine p.m. to bed type, and my mother dutifully followed his lead. I was left to roam this new house that felt as foreign as the mounds of flesh that were starting to collect on my chest (which were as unwanted as the piles of dust bunnies under a bed).
One room I spent a lot of time in during those nights was my stepfather’s den. It was the only room in the house that contained a computer which was connected to a modem, and thus connected to the Internet and the outside world.
His den was also lined with bookshelves. Most were stuffed with books on Churchill, Roosevelt, and JFK. But amongst the white, male political archetypes of the 20th century stood an erect tower of CDs. I didn’t pay it much attention for the first few months, beyond trying not to knock it over when turning out the lights.
One particularly boring Friday night I finally began to thumb through the hard, plastic squares. It didn’t take much thumbing till I was enthralled by one plastic square in particular; The Rolling Stones’ Forty Licks.
I had barely kissed a boy, let alone used tongue or “licked” anything beyond a popsicle, but that didn’t matter. The cover artwork spoke a universal language. It told me it was about something that was just beyond what I knew.
I popped the first of the two CDs into my stepfather’s stereo, pushed play and subsequently escaped from my body that was feeling more foreign by the day.
A hundred and fifty five minutes later (the length of forty licks according to the Rolling Stones…), and wanting more, I dutifully typed “Rolling Stones” into the internet and a whole other world opened up before me as I fell down the wishing well, ate the tea cakes, saw the cheshire cake and watched at least fifty of their performances that night (basically all that the internet had to offer of them at the time).
Abandonment. Joy. Pain. Performance.
They performed with reckless abandon. As if no one was watching — except thousands of people of course were — but to them, no one was, it was only them, answering to themselves.
The Rolling Stones were the first thing that taught me how to escape. With them, I was able to escape the house I was living in, the body that was changing without my permission, and most importantly, the negative thoughts of feeling less than.
Being able to escape saved me an unquantifiable amount of pain, loneliness and anguish.
That feeling that comes with dancing alone is still how I survive just about anything. Being able to escape at the drop of a note, and a shake of the hips is my secret weapon, my armor and my church.
Okay, so clearly escaping is important to me, thus we dedicated an entire month for it on the site :)
And as you can tell, “escape” to me is not just about piña coladas and beaches (although I’ll take that whenever damn possible). Escape is a mentality, something you can do whenever you need to find the strength to take on another day or even just to survive the hour.
So come escape with us for the month. We’ll be talking about daily escapism rituals like bathing, more extravagant escapes such as solo traveling. We’ll also be taking a few trips through some fashion editorials, hearing from women who needed to escape their country of origin, and a few other ideas of escape sprinkled in between…