“I don’t know why I am feeling so anxious about this? It’s not like I never ran away before. This won’t be the first time. What should I take with me? Not so much I guess, since I’ll be given saffron robes to wear once I’m settled in. How am I going to get to the bus station? Her car! Yeah, I’ll take her car. First I’ll write a note so they don’t think it was stolen. Always the considerate one I am, even to those who don’t deserve it. Well, it’s almost twelve thirty a.m. I should get moving.”
In the dark and shadows of my parent’s house I gather my things. The queen is sunk deep in her bed. Still I must creep by ever so quietly. Grab the car keys. Shh! don’t let them jingle! Close the door ever so gently so that the only unavoidable noise is the click of the dead bolt locking. Now for the car. I should try not making any unnecessary noises while getting in the car. Bad enough there’s nothing I can do about the sound of the engine once I start the ignition. There’s no need to disturb the next door neighbors either. My mother’s brown and gold-tone 1975 Ford Granada Monarch Ghia smoothly rolls out into the empty street. From reverse I shift my life forward and towards the Greyhound Bus terminal on Erie Boulevard. It is as if the entire city thought to stay home, to stay off the streets, allowing me smooth sailing. Now where should I park the queen’s new chariot so it’s fairly safe and easy to find? Yeah, here, under this lamp post. The light will be on it all night and it’ll be obvious to them when my father brings the queen to retrieve it.
“One ticket, one way to Boston Mass, please!” The teller –in what looks like a cage—in the almost abandoned bus terminal complies with my request. “Gee, that felt grown up!” I say to myself while watching myself. Who am I? It’s like I am my parent watching me, but without interfering. Well…it’s probably me being overly cautious. I don’t feel all that safe sitting here alone. Oh shit, I must have watched too much TV! “Boston, now boarding at gate 3” the intercom announces at a ridiculously loud volume for as few people that are here in the middle of the night. Hearing the call to board I hurry as though I am about to miss the bus’ departure. These bus steps are so high up and far apart from one another its like climbing up into the bus. I find a seat alone and by a window. I don’t care if I can be seen from the outside. The authorities don’t care much about a seventeen year old. They’ve got more important things to do than chasing after a “juvi” by the pleading of some crazy Cuban lady and her husband of servitude.
[insert here the Three Days Experience in Boston]
The Śri Śri Rādhā Kṛṣṇa Temple is full of what appears to me as mostly white middle and upper middle class young adults who have sworn off everything attached to their parents and their isolated upbringing. This of course would include everything Catholic whether one was a Catholic or not. I entered this temple to the Hindu god and His consort with a continued affection for Jesus Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. My “franciscanism” had only been recently adopted as influenced by the charismatic and hip Catholic priest at my high school back home. Aum …that would be Father Francis Pompei of Oswego. Ya’know, I see no contradiction or exclusivity in such a belief coupled with my new Hindu practices. But those who have chosen –or were chosen– to speak to me have made it clear that Jesus and Francis were not welcomed here. If I did not abandon them soon I too would no longer be welcomed here. Now, I know St. Francis was the quintessential animal lover and environmentalist. But in my world there are limits! I mean, one must be practical in order to care for the surroundings and stay personally healthy! So what’s the deal with the thousands, literally thousands of roaches invading the laundry hamper, the bathroom and the kitchen? Have these upper class white kids totally lost themselves or have they been reincarnated as Hindus when they died to their former lifestyle?
I, I, I jus, I just can’t stand it here anymore!, as I hold back the tears of what seemed as self-abandonment. “Ah, excuse me? May I use the phone? I don’t think I belong here. I need to call for a ride. Thank you!” (Sigh!) 555-HO3-1907 I dialed the telephone.
“Hel-O?” quietly the Spaniard voice inquired. What am I to do? The queen answered. Of course Dad’s at work. She’s only going to yell and scream at me. But I really need to get out of this place.
“Yeah, Mom? It’s me.” Holding back tears my voice cracked. “Mom, I’m in Boston and I want to come home! I’m at 72 Commonwealth Ave in Boston, the Hari Krishna Temple. Yes. Okay. See you.” That was it! No yelling, no screaming, no belittling me. She said she was sorry but for what I don’t know. Like I died and I had just given instructions on how she could resurrect me. What seemed faster than Greyhound in eight hours my parents were at the door of the ISKCON temple. Anticipating their arrival I’m already packed. The only memento I am allowed is the śikhā surrounded by my bald head.
I must not be the only Krishna flunky to fail the endurance test seeing that the phone was readily available. Oh sure, someone tried to encourage me to stay but his encouragement seemed more symbolic showing mainly that he put forth the effort without ever being convincing as to why I ought to stay to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa. “Oh! Thanks!” I was just informed that “my ride” is here.
As I descend the stairs from this old Boston row house I look down in dreadful anticipation. The queen wasn’t herself on the phone I wonder how she will be now, again in person. Say, since I came all this way maybe she’s repented from all her nastiness? I can see the Granada temporarily parked at the curb in front of the Kṛṣṇa Temple. She was seated in the front passenger seat staring straight ahead as though trying not to look in my direction. As my father returns to his driver’s seat I have five more steps to descend. Then as if with confidence I firmly open the back door and take my place in her car. But once there I begin to feel uneasy from the silence and I sink into the back seat. It took her only a few row houses distance from my Boston home for her to begin barraging me with her insults and resentments reminding me how worthless I am. Ah, home sweet fucking home!