The Story

Okay. Here’s the story. Where I’ve been and what I’ve done since you last heard from me (ya’ll know who you are.)
When my family returned to California in September of 2012, I decided to move out and stay in Texas to create a life for myself. I decided to figure it all out on my own.
First I lived in my best friend’s home in Decatur, and then in December I moved into an apartment in Roanoke where I had a roommate who was 50 years old, but looked and acted much younger. A wonderful, supportive woman who wanted to be a mother to me, and tried every day to be one. I didn’t like this, though, I just wanted an apartment, I wanted independence, I didn’t want a mother figure, especially when I was having difficulty enough with my real one. My roommate had a dozen and one medical problems that I was given the details of on a regular basis, she was always either discussing celebrity gossip, her boyfriend, her long-dead husband, her physical ailments or her daughter. She was a charming, annoying, hardworking, impossible individual who refused to be ignored without realizing she was refusing to be ignored.
I got a job at the nearest Wal-Mart as an overnight inventory control specialist within a week of moving into the apartment. I didn’t have a car. And Roanoke does not have a bus system. This meant that 5 nights a week I walked in the cold/rain/snow 3 miles to work, clocked in at 10pm, and then clocked out around 7am and walked back home so I could collapse in my bed before I had to go back to work. Some nights I sincerely felt like I just wasn’t going to make it, I wondered at how I was going to keep going on like that, and then I went on like that, because there was no other option.
That job…there are many things to say about that job.
I had one coworker who I loved, my gosh, he was one of my most favorite people in the entire world. He was a former cop (moved from one Tennesee to Texas, and he was working on becoming a Texas cop) and a father to me. In the stuffy, miserable back room that was filled with exhausted, perverted men, Tim was a very bright light. He was a Christian fellow, in his late forties. He looked out for me, and made me laugh so hard every single time I worked with him, I couldn’t breathe or stand up straight. My goodness. What a man. He called me “Miss Hannah.” and eventually, “Punkin’.”
I worked at Wal-Mart for only two and a half months. Something happened that made me realize many things at once. But mainly:
1. My life wasn’t going anywhere in Roanoke, every penny went to rent and food, anything I saved was so tiny…it would take years for it to be of any use.
2. I wanted to feel safe again.
There was one night when I was walking back home from my second job at a candy shop in the downtown, when I found myself disoriented on some train tracks. At my high school graduation someone’s parents had bought these little keychain flashlights for everyone, so I took out my keychain and used the light. I still had a small canister of pepper spray attached to the keychain, my mom had bought it for me when I got my first job ever at a furniture store in downtown Keller. I had my pepperspray and flashlight aimed at anything that moved or made a sound. It was freezing and windy. There were trees everywhere. It was so dark. My light made everything look so creepy, it looked like a horror movie. Everything seemed to lose its color in that light. It was sharp and drained and heartless. With each minute that passed I became more and more certain that someone was going to attack me. There was graffiti on any surface that would support it, and I had seen needles and homeless folks near the tracks before. I have never been more terrified in my entire life. I was stiff but shaking, freezing and constantly bracing for impact. I was spinning and jerking, whipping my flashlight from one part of the trees and tracks to the next. When I found my way back onto a real road, and the apartment was in sight, I relaxed so extremely that it surprised me, it was like every muscle had contracted and was now released. I didn’t snap until I had put away my things, said goodnight to the roommate and sat down in a marvelously hot bubble bath. I just saw, and heard, and felt the word ‘safe’. And that’s when the sobbing started.
I am a hug person. And nothing in the entire universe seemed more absolutely wonderful or more comforting than a huge hug.
I was hungry so often in Roanoke, and so tired. I easily lost 15+ pounds just because I couldn’t eat because I always forgot to eat when I got home, and never ate at work, and I spent my nights walking and lifting things. I remember one morning when I went inside Donut Paradise, Roanoke’s main doughnut place, and bought waaayyy too much food, I was freaking starving and they had these cheese danishes…oh my gosh. She’d pop them in a microwave for ten seconds before she gave it to you, and it was AMAZING. And when I got home and ate pretty much everything I sincerely thought to myself, “I love not being hungry.” It was such a true thought then, I mean, no one likes being hungry, but when you’re hungry all of the time, and then suddenly not hungry at all for a while…it is amazing. Just amazing.
I knew something had to change after ‘the thing’ happened that has been mentioned before, and when I told myself to think of a place where I would feel safe a person appeared in my mind. So I decided to go to where this person was.
Three days later I was in the Fort Worth AmTrak station, and two days after that I was in Pittsburgh, getting on a bus to West Virginia.
It was snowing.
I love snow.
Roanoke definitely had snow, yes Sir it did. It was snowing so heavily one morning as I walked home from work that a police officer offered me a ride home. And you can bet your boots I took that ride.
But this snow was different.
This place was different.
It was beautiful. Just looking at everything made me happy.
I was so happy, a very simple happy that I had never felt before.
Just looking at those trees and that river and those buildings. They made me happy, and I just looked at the freaking things. What the heck. And the courthouse…oh my goodness. Ya’ll. It had corinthian pillars. Corinthian pillars are my favorite. They make my heart happy. And the courthouse had them.
I appeared in the kitchen of this person. This person has had my complete trust and respect ever since the second I knew they existed. They were surprised to see me, as I had not told them that I was coming.
I’ve never seen so many facial expressions in a single second.
Oh, yes, and this person had never seen me in person before. They had only seen me in tiny profile pictures on WordPress and Twitter.
But they had seen enough to recognize me.
And to know I was a very, very long way from home.
My very simple move became very complicated very quickly.
My very presence made a huge mess.
No one knew who I was, a few people didn’t trust me and didn’t believe me. Everyone had questions, they wanted the story.
And I didn’t want to tell them the story, because it was a long one, and I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell them I had no plan, or try to justify moving halfway across the country on a whim because I believed someone who I had never met before could make me feel safe. I didn’t want to explain my stupidity, my complete and utter stupidity that landed me in a corner with a very drunk fellow reeking of cigarettes as he forced a kiss on me.
I didn’t want to tell my story.
I wanted to murder it.
I wanted to murder every memory of every stupid mistake I had made. I just wanted to be warm and be simple-happy. I wanted to stand really close to this person I trusted and stare at awesome stuff like corinthian pillars and talk about Donut Paradise cheese danishes.
I wanted a future.
But I had to tell everyone about what I did. I had to explain myself. Because life doesn’t work the way I had assumed. People don’t accept the unfamiliar when it has the potential to be dangerous. And everything about me seemed to scream either psycho or on the run.
The three weeks I spent in West Virginia were the happiest of my life. Truly.
They were also the most emotional. I was so anxious, and angry, and joyful.
This person who I trust more than anyone else convinced me to come to California, where my family is, and make things right with them. And get everything in my life lined up, and do everything the right way.
No one else could have done that.
My mom has taken to calling them ‘The Hannah Whisperer.’
I now work at Toys R Us, and spend my free time at the Clovis library and in the Old Town melting over the antiques that I find. I have no friends in this state, I hang out with no one. But I don’t mind in the least. I have ya’ll, and I have my books, and I have this person.
To be continued.
(Hopefully…I don’t plan on my life being a very brief one.)
There are many people I met in my adventures that I haven’t mentioned here…I’m not sure how to mention them smoothly. And there are many moments I’ll never forget, but that I don’t know how to explain. Anyway…that’s one way of saying, “This was the short version.”