You didn’t try to stop me
Did you notice I left?
Leaving Home M.S. 1990
When I said last time that Reginald Brandon Campbell Wentworth III ceased to exist on that evening of December 18 1985 I don’t mean that I stepped out onto the street and died. That would make it difficult although not impossible, to write this memoir, although more on difficult but not impossible bit later. What actually happened was that I just ceased to think of myself by that name any longer. It seemed like my father had ceased recognising me by that name since the accident, if he ever truly did, so in my mind it was only fair that I did too.
That’s right I wasn’t just a kid who packed his bags and walked out of his childhood home only to return when I got hungry. The second I stepped outside the boundary of that house I instantly stopped thinking of myself as a part of a family. I stopped thinking of myself as my parent’s child. I stopped thinking of myself as Reginald. I stopped thinking of myself altogether. I wasn’t some kind of nonentity but I became invisible to all but those I wanted to see me, which at that instant in time was no one!
I guess looking back at things I became the invisible boy long before I left home. I could see myself in the mirror in the bathroom, but could anyone else? I had my doubts. I guess Herod always saw me but my parents, my teachers, my friends, certainly didn’t always appear to see me. I was alone in a room full of people and even if I screamed at the top of my lungs I wouldn’t be heard.
Anyway I knew that neither of my parents were watching from the door, or looking though those lacy like white curtains that seemed to be the rage of the modern householder in the mid 80’s, and that made my first disappearing act an easy one. I simply stepped onto the footpath, turned left and began walking.
I don’t know if other people who leave home have plans that they follow through with or not but I had nothing. I hadn’t thought my plans out for weeks or even days, I had simply packed what I could and walked out the door. Yet somehow even by the time I stepped passed where the side fence intersected with the council owned footpath the lack of somewhere to actually go had not entered my mind.
I walked well into darkness, if the direction I was headed or the turns I made were guided by someone or something I had no idea what it was. I walked in and out of street lights, walked through intersections, walked past cars and walked past shops. I don’t remember talking to anyone and if anyone spoke to me I more than likely ignored them.
When I finally stopped I wasn’t entirely sure why I stopped, I wasn’t even sure where I was, nothing looked familiar. However just like that character in the Wizard of Oz who knew she was no longer in Kansas I knew I was no longer in suburbia, I’d walked all the way into the inner city. Exactly where in the inner city wasn’t clear, it was an area I could not pin point from what I could see, but the fact that from the house I’d only hours before called home to the inner city was nearly twenty kilometres I was definitely shocked.
Despite the noises around me I still managed to hear the sound of a near by clock tower as it rang out telling the city, much of which should have been asleep, that it was 1am. I guess it was the realisation that I had been walking for six hours that did it because no sooner had the clock tower bells stopped ringing than my legs started to ache and ache really badly.
Just like I knew there was cars and shops around me but had no idea what they were there was people around me but I had no idea what they were doing. The city was no where near as busy at such an early hour as I remembered it from the day time visits but I was still bumped and nudged by people walking and staggering to wherever they were headed. Again I felt like I was the invisible boy, but it didn’t worry me.
I twisted and craned my neck taking in my surroundings for the first time, I saw a large raised garden across the road and almost as if my tired legs were making my decisions I headed directly for it. As I stepped across the road the horn of an early morning delivery truck echoed in my head, I wasn’t close to being hit but I guess the driver was making sure I was awake.
Stepping across the road, slightly more aware of the small amount of traffic I thought that maybe the invisible boy wasn’t invisible to everyone, maybe he just had to find the right people who could see him.
When I stepped onto the footpath on the opposite side of the road I made a beeline for the raised garden. It was made from some kind of granite stone and I knew it was going to provide me with the resting place my legs suddenly desired after such a long walk.
I heaved my suitcase up onto the flat stone next to where I planned to sit, something in my mind was still awake enough to tell me not to just drop it. It was at that moment I felt a sharp pang in my right arm, it was a pang of relief telling me how happy it was to be free of the suitcase’s weight which I hadn’t thought about up to that point. I shook my arm and tried to ignore the pain, then turned my back to the granite wall and used my hands to lift my body upwards.
I was only sitting on that flat granite surface for a few minutes when I heard something that changed my life forever.