The leather couch used to squeak whenever he would slide down onto it. It didn’t anymore. You could even feel the small dent in the middle caused by all those people it had accommodated over the years. He could proudly or shamefully (it depends how you saw it) proclaim that he had grown up right there on that brown leather couch. In that down town office that was as modern as could be, with white walls that were repainted every five years and modern, funky furniture that invited the waiting patients and offered the illusion that they would take their troubles away.
That was the first word he heard every time he sat on that couch. It was Mr. Waterman’s job, though, to say so. He needed his patients calm so that they could pour out their soul to him during the next hour and he could attempt to provide some solution, consolation or advice to their problems. And these were many and varied. But over the years he had heard a lot. Just not from one particular patient. This one had proven to be an especially difficult case.
Brandon would simply refuse to speak out, to tell the professional sitting across him what troubled his mind, what made his heart ache, where his eyes wandered when he stared at the horizon out of the window. Whatever the exhortations or appeals Mr Waterman would use, discreetly or not, Brandon did not want to speak. He simply sufficed to say that he had nothing to say. Mr Waterman even tried to entice him with milkshakes and chocolate, but that didn’t work even when he was a young child, let alone now.
After around twenty years of therapy, Brandon still had nothing to say. Yet, he was as confused and tormented inside as he had always been. A storm was still brewing inside of him. It was just silent to the outer world.
Brandon was a child that kept to himself. He became quite the introvert as a young man, although he loved to socialize and go out with friends. But when he returned home, he liked to stay in his room doing his own thing, whatever that was – reading a book, listening to music, surfing the web. And just like he disturbed no one, he himself did not like to be disturbed. His upper class parents believed he was a troubled child. They described him as “emotionally unavailable” and “awkward” and pleaded Mr Waterman to “fix him”. So Brandon grew up in the office of a shrink. Only none of them knew about it.
Mr Waterman watched Brandon grow from a quiet boy into an unsuccessful rebel, into an elegant and well-educated young man. From the few things Brandon had uttered in his office, the professional understood that the boy felt misunderstood, that no one could comprehend what he felt or thought and that is why he preferred to stay silent. So the hours were spent talking about culture, the news, and well, anything other than himself. The latest thing that made Brandon’s eyes gleam with excitement was a photo book of the most amazing places in the world that should be visited. The first-page inscription –a quote by William G.T. Shedd: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for” – was what mostly inspired his heart to sing. But Mr Waterman knew that the storm would finally break out; he could see it the young man’s eyes, his gaze was looking further than meets the eye. It was obvious that he was in search of something out there that was not immediately visible.
And the storm arrived.
It came in the form of a hand-written letter and a tidied-up room.
I run because I no longer want to hide.
Because there is so much more out there to explore.
Because I want to move on with my life and do something substantial.
Because I feel I cannot reach my true potential if I am locked down here, without facing any real challenges or the endless possibilities that seem to be out there.
Because I want to be somewhere where people know me for me and not because of who I know.
Because I want to be heard without needing to yell and fight.
Because I want to rediscover the joy of Fridays and looking forward to the weekend.
Because I want to live and see places and not just hear about them from other people’s past experiences.
Because I want to find a house that is mine from the start, that I decorate and organise to fit my needs.
Because it is part of growing up and independence is a powerful thing to have.
Because I don’t want to waste time anymore, waiting.
Because I want to finally find and taste at least one happy ending.
I run because I am not running. I simply want to live.