I grew up in a large town in Lincolnshire, England. As kids, we used to play in a large wooded area on the outskirts of town called Bradley Woods. In the woods is an ancient looking abandoned cottage by a pond and we told a story about it which went like this:
Hundreds of years ago, a poor woodsman lived in the cottage with his wife and baby. They lived happily until the woodsman was pressed into military service by the local landowner during the English Civil War. The woodman’s wife waited and waited for months for any news of her husband, but none ever came.
One new year’s day, a group of soldiers on horseback came riding through the woods, part of a force that had been plundering the surrounding countryside. Coming across the cottage, they broke in and demanded the woodsman’s wife hand over all her money and any strong drink she might have. When she refused, the soldiers beat and raped her savagely, before taking the baby and riding off, laughing wickedly.
From that day on, the woman dressed in black and roamed the woods searching for her missing child, accosting anyone she met and begging them for any news of the baby. She soon earned a reputation as being quite mad, and so people began to give the woods a wide berth.
The woodsman never returned home, and the woman continued to roam the woods, desperately searching for her lost baby until the day she died.
Legend has it that her ghost still wanders the woods today, and if anyone is brave enough to walk into the woods on new year’s day and shout
“Black lady, black lady, I’ve stolen your baby!” three times, the woman shall appear and confront them.
1) fake messiah - lamb of god
2) 333 - against me!
3) jaded - green day
4) the end - my chemical romance
5) choke sermon - lamb of god
6) hitchin’ a ride - green day
7) scream - New Year’s Day
8) ashes of the wake - lamb of god
9) something from that shit U2 album that automatically downloaded onto my phone
10) eyeless - slipknot.
It’s been so loud in your head for what has felt like so many months. You’re not sure how you’re going to pay for college, your English teacher probably hates you, the boy you like…. honestly who knows, and you’re so weighted with so many thoughts all at once - thoughts that aren’t even thoughts, about things you can’t really think about, but they’re there and they’re loud. And it’s all been so loud for so long you forget what its like to have quiet. You haven’t slept in weeks, how could you? And it’s New Year’s Eve, maybe, and you pulled an all-nighter, and you cannot hear your friends anymore. Nothing can beat the volume in your head. So you get up. You get up, damn it. You get up and you fight for yourself for once. You don’t know why you get up, you have no idea, most likely. But you do, damn it. You get up, and it’s 6:30 in the morning and you say goodbye to your friends and you get your shoes on and you go.
You leave. You walk out the front door and you walk down the steps and you get into your car. And it’s so loud. It’s so loud and it’s 6:30 on the day after a midnight holiday and no one is on the road. And suddenly, it isn’t so loud anymore. You plug in your iPod and you press play. A song comes on that you’re maybe not crazy about. It’s not a bad song, not in the slightest. But you just stormed out of your friend’s house and got in your car on a whim and it’s not exactly what you pictured playing in the movie you’re no doubt rolling in your head. But you don’t skip it, because the roads are icy in the neighborhoods and you don’t want to end up on the news simply because the right song isn’t playing. So you listen. And you realize it is the right song. The singer, probably, is singing about being a drifter, about never being a fixed dot on the line of life. She’s singing to you, maybe, or to someone you once were. And your foot is on the pedal. And your singing. And, let’s be honest, you can’t sing. You sound akin to the gears underneath you propelling your car forward, forward to something maybe, a something that is becoming more and more concrete with every tick of the odometer. But you sing, damn it. You sing because you cannot possibly think of a reason not to. So you’re driving, feeling the steering wheel in your hands. And you turn the corner, onto a typically busy street, County Line maybe, and you see the mountains. You see them there, and if it wasn’t quite earlier, it sure the hell is quiet now. And a new song is playing now, a song you danced to in middle school, probably. And you’re singing still. You’re not thinking about the words. You’re not thinking about anything. Except, maybe you are. There’s a thought forming somewhere. It’s still not really anything yet. And you’re looking at the mountains, and the road is passing underneath undisturbed, and if it is disturbed its certainly not letting on to it. So you’re driving, and you’re staring, and suddenly you realize that you can be anything you want to be. It’s a New Year, isn’t it? And maybe it’s more than that. Maybe you’ll keep driving; it sure seems like a good idea. And maybe then you think of a book you read your Freshman year, The Bean Trees maybe, and you realize that you could start all over. Who could stop you? When the car runs out, turn around and look at the first thing you see. Whatever it is, is your new name. And so maybe your new name is Seesaw or Icicle or Sign. And who cares? Because not even a shitty name can stop you now. So you’ll drive and you’ll find yourself a perfectly shitty name, and you don’t know how you’ll make a living, but you know you’ll figure it out. I mean, your brain got you out of the house, right? And it got you in the car, yes? And it stopped thinking for a minute and found you quiet, didn’t it? So maybe you’ll figure it out. And maybe you’re starting to realize, and you wonder about your name and the road is passing underneath you and it’s quiet, that maybe planning is what got you and everybody else into this mess. Maybe this new you will forget the plan. Because maybe you realize that it isn’t worth it anymore, all this planning. Plan for this; prepare for that. That mentality hasn’t gotten you very far, so why not leave it under your car, on the road that is quiet, as you drive staring at the mountains?
Or maybe instead of a new life, a movie theater is waiting for you at the end of the road: a movie theater with a single film playing. And you walk up to it and you buy a ticket with all the money you have left in your wallet, which, in truth, probably isn’t very much, and you go in and you find a seat. And you watch the movie, yes, and you love it. In fact, you probably love it more than any movie you’ve ever seen. So you watch it, and it ends, and you don’t know what was so remarkable about it. There was nothing in it that was, you know, that great. But it was. It was wonderful. It was beyond description. And you get back in your car and you stare at yourself in the rear-view mirror and you sigh. You start driving again, and you realize you never found out the name of the movie. And as you live through the rest of your life, anytime someone asks you what your favorite movie is, you tell them you can’t remember the name of it. They laugh, usually, and make some smart-ass remark wondering how you could forget the title of your favorite movie. But you tell them you can’t forget something you never knew. So they ask you, probably, what it’s about, because they’ve probably seen a lot of movies and probably think they know them all. But they don’t, not this one. And you tell them, you try anyway, the basics of the plot, but you can’t remember. You can’t remember what it was about. But it had to be about something, didn’t it? Or maybe that’s what made it so great. But you remember, you remember when you’re crying alone at your house and you don’t know why. In fact, you remember so well that you can actually probably quote the entire movie from start to end. And the words comfort you.
Or maybe, as I likely expect, your home is the only thing waiting for you on the other side of the road, and no matter how hard you try to avoid it, and no matter how many minutes you waste on the side streets, you wind up pulling into your driveway and turning off your car and going inside your house and hanging up your keys and taking off your shoes. But you’re not really you anymore, not really. You’ve changed. You know things now, things about how life is ugly and people will leave you and gas is expensive. But you don’t care. Because you know the beautiful things – the mountains and the quiet and the road as it moves under your tires. You know those things are yours and yours alone. You know you can hold onto things. You can. You may not always remember that they are there, but they will be and you will quote along when you are all alone. But you know now, that you’re never alone, not really. You realize you’ve been waiting for someone to rescue you, for someone to look at you, for someone to reach right into your fucking pathetic life, and fix it. But you know that’s not going to happen. Not with all you know now. See, you’ve realized, among other things probably, that you are the best superhero to yourself you will ever meet. You cannot fix the world you live in, maybe. You cannot change your circumstance, most likely. But you can choose to get in the car and drive. And all will be quiet. And all the road will pass under you. And the mountains will still stand there. And you will be behind the wheel.
So you left their house, on New Year’s Day probably, and you didn’t know, maybe, that you were leaving your life behind. So when they come looking for you (and they will, most likely with police) you do not have to hide from them to be happy. You simply have to tell them that you do not live here anymore, that you let that person go a long time ago. And when they ask you where you left them, you tell them. You tell them, damn it, that you left it on the side of the road, the highway maybe, or your neighbor’s yard, but you left them the moment you got in the car. You drove away. You never looked back. Or maybe you did.