You’re Not the Only One

It wasn’t quite November, but there had already been a lot of rain. Even the mighty oak, always the last to let go her stubborn dead children, was releasing them, allowing them to get pulled down by the wind and wet. In the dark, though, bare trees were less desolate, and the leaves on the ground formed a blanket that softened footfalls and buffered a lonely kid’s wandering.

On the stereo, Guns ‘N Roses began their epic nine-minute mini-opus, ‘November Rain’. This song was the epitome of adolescent angst – is there a more cruel form of angst? –  and whatever happens to you then is what sticks with you for life, no matter what you become, no matter how much you change, no matter where you go.

When I look into your eyes, I can see a love restrained,
But darlin’ when I hold you, Don’t you know I feel the same
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever, And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain
We’ve been through this such a long long time, just trying to kill the pain…
But lovers always come, And lovers always go, And no one’s really sure who’s lettin’ go today
Walking away…
If we could take the time to lay it on the line, I could rest my head just knowin’ that you were mine
All mine.
So if you want to love me then darlin’ don’t refrain
Or I’ll just end up walking in the cold November rain.
Do you need some time on your own?
Do you need some time all alone?
Everybody needs some time on their own
Don’t you know you need some time all alone?

I tried to run. A black coat billowed behind me, the shadow of the monster I was becoming always at my heels, inseparable and inescapable, but that didn’t slow my steps. I ran up the street of my childhood home, the wind whipping leaves around me, teasing me to soar, to attempt to make and take flight, and the sky laughing cold tears down upon my soaked face. The faster I ran, the harder I went, the quicker I came closer to myself, closer to what I could not leave, and what I could not face.

The cold, burning sting of hand upon cheek, the prickling of an icy rain on exposed skin, and the welcome reassurance that there was still feeling here. A heart still pumped its blood, a brain still sent out its neurotransmitters, but that mysterious nether-region of feelings and emotions lay asleep, waiting for sabotage, waiting for the rest to turn. My feet started to burn, my calves and thighs ached, and my chest heaved with the remnants of years of asthma. I begged the wind and the rain and the night to bring deliverance, in whatever form I deserved.

I know it’s hard to keep an open heart when even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart, wouldn’t time be out to charm you?
Sometimes I need some time on my own
Sometimes I need some time all alone
Everybody needs some time on their own
Don’t you know you need some time all alone?

I slowed to a walk. Golden lights in windows and doorways of happier homes glowed teasing, taunting, vicious reassurance – the promise that there was warmth somewhere, but always somewhere else. In my house, the promise of a plastic bag and sleeping pills lay hidden beneath my pillow, in the dark. Nothing else waited for me. No one knew I was gone.

And when your fears subside, and shadows still remain,
I know that you can love me when there’s no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness, We still can find a way,
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever, Even cold November rain.

How many nights had I tried to run like this? Not with any destination in mind, only with the knowledge that I simply needed to be in motion, needed to thrash myself against the world – because the world hurts, and the only way to get through it sometimes is to thrash back and destroy. I started to run again, picking up speed, flying through the night. It was mostly downhill now, and I gave in to gravity, and my legs sped over the wet pavement, and for a moment it seemed I might be able to leave my mind behind.

This part of the song flashed in my head… and I ran even faster:

Don’t you think that you need somebody?
Don’t you think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody…
You’re not the only one, you’re not the only one.

Outrunning my tears and pain, outrunning the boy they wanted me to be and the boy I never was, outrunning the boy I would never be. Outrunning the boy who might need someone, the boy who might be the only one.

Don’t you think that you need somebody?
Don’t you think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody…
You’re not the only one…
You’re not the only one.
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