Those of you who know me might be asking, Bozo the Clown hair? It was the summer after my first (and only) year of college, and I had just broken up with my high school sweetheart. Break-ups for me always meant drastic hair change. My mom had never let me dye my hair, and I'd always wanted red hair...so in my youthful idiocy, I allowed some college kid to bleach and dye my extremely dark hair. He claimed experience, but it ended up tie-dyed. Luckily, a salon fixed it, but it never did look right after that.
My car had been broken down for nine of the twelve months I was away in Tennessee, so my mom was kind enough to come pick me up so I could make it back to Asheville for a doctor's appointment. I was disappointed to see that she allowed my evil stepdad to come, since I'd been hoping to spend nice time with her. I hadn't seen him in a year though, so I didn't make any fuss. We all knew how Dick* and I felt about each other. I was the girl who used a moving truck leaving college, because I actually lived there. I was out of the house at eighteen with no intentions of going back. I swore the abuse would end the minute I didn't have to take it anymore.
That's how I ended up walking down the interstate. I don't remember how it started, but Dick started yelling at me about something stupid and I put him in his place. He swerved all over the interstate – going well over 55, I might add – and then stopped right there in the road. He turned with his fist raised as if he was going to punch me, and I grinned at him and called his bluff. He turned back, swearing and calling me many vulgar names, and started driving off again. Traffic was dodging us, it was dangerous, and my mom still wasn't coming to my rescue. All I needed was a ride. I didn't sign up for that shit, and I no longer had to take it.
So I said, “This is my stop!”, grabbed my bag, opened the door, and started to jump out. Mom grabbed my shoulders as I jumped, so my feet were dragging down the interstate. I had on sandals, and I lost one. Rather than stop, Dick sped up. I almost cussed my mom, which I suppose is what made her realize I was serious. She made him stop, which was helpful since he was back up to thirty-five or forty by then.
I found my shoe and started hoofing it, but they continued creeping behind me for about a quarter mile. They wouldn't believe that I wasn't getting back in the car, so I ran across and climbed the median wall to walk the west-bound lane. The minute they had rounded the first curve out of sight, I climbed back across and hurried down the bank. I had seen a small side road, and I knew I could make my way to the next exit without them finding me. I didn't know that half the “embankment” was really a patch of blackberries as high as my chest. The thorns only got my bare legs and feet, and I made it through with both sandals.
Doesn't sound very blissful, does it? They say ignorance is bliss, and looking back, I was surely ignorant during that phase of my life. But it was also the first (but not only, I am happy to say) time I stood up for myself in the face of abuse without having to fear the repercussions. Any pain I felt that day was a pain I had chosen, and I had my first taste of adult freedom.
That day, my friends, was the first real bliss I think I ever felt.
* Not his real name, but appropriate enough