|The following narrative was submitted on 20 September, 1996, by Mary Dodson, who was born in 1953. If you'd like to contribute a narrative, please fill out our form. If your browser doesn't handle forms, just write us an email. For permission to reprint narratives, please contact Viet Nam Generation, Inc.|
Long before I was old enough to legally stick my thumb into a south-bound lane of traffic, I was running away. I did this several times between the ages of 14 and 16, although I never got good at it. I didn't run away to have fun or get away from a bad home. Rather, I felt I was a pilgrim of some sort and needed to leave everything behind to find truth. The first time I landed in Juvenile Hall somewhere in central California (the police picked me up walking down the railroad tracks carrying a large suitcase). When my father picked me up, he was put through hell for not calling the police on me. But he never said a word, just took me out for ice cream.
Married at 16, my goal in life was to be a "lady of the canyon," a poetess, a sheperdess or something equally honest. In fact, I once asked a sheep rancher for a job watching after his sheep. His reply: "They pretty much look after themselves."
I am still running, although for the past 20 years I've been running in place. On my 35th birthday, I wrote this poem:
Peanut butter and panties
at thirty-five you'd think there'd be
a couple things
higher on the list.
But just those two would be enough
tied up in a blue and white bandana
on a stick and
thrown like a dare
over my shoulder.