Paper Towns

It is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

Leaving was never a question for me. I knew it even as a child. “I can’t wait to get the hell out of this town,” I told my 8th grade best friend. I felt like a badass, not because of the magnitude of that statement, but because I said hell (cursing! oh my!). But that’s a lot coming from a 12-year-old to proclaim that I will be leaving, and I did. I left Hillside for Saratoga Springs, then for Honolulu, for Beijing, for London, for San Francisco, then back to the Springs, and now, New York City (and random cities). And that’s not where it ends. I’m still that 12-year-old telling myself, “I can’t wait to get the hell out of this town.” But it’s more than that now.

…each of us starts out as a watertight vessel. And these things happen – these people leave us, or don’t love us, or don’t get us, or we don’t get them, and we lose and fail and hurt one another. And the vessel starts to crack open in places. And I mean, yea, once the vessel cracks open, the end becomes inevitable… But there is all this time between when the cracks start to open up and when we finally fall apart. And it’s only in that time that we can see one another, because we see out of ourselves through our cracks and into others through theirs. When did we see each face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.

It is not the leaving or the traveling I crave. I don’t travel to escape. Yes, I have been hurt by people I once called brothers and sisters in a place I once called home, but they are not the reason why I go. I travel to learn about the world, but more importantly, I travel to learn about myself. I want to know my limits, and I want to test my limits – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I travel to find the cracks in the world, in others, and in myself. Because it is through our brokenness that we can truly understand each other.

Reading Paper Towns made me realize that I am so much like Margo (not the planning pranks and running away), but I empathize with her to turn her “paper girl”-ness into a real girl. That is my desire: to be a real person – the person God intended me to be. But I don’t fit into the paper cut-out of this world. I don’t want the house, the car(s), the pet(s), the husband, the 9-5. I want an apartment (if that), a car that I can sleep in (maybe), a dog (maybe), an adventure buddy (partner in crime!), a career I love. This is where I feel Margo’s pain as she leaves her childhood friend. She can’t take him with her because he believes in the paper world; he wants the paper world. I want to leave the paper world.

As I’m writing this, I see my paper plane tattoo. HA! It was completely random. I decided 2 weeks before my 25th birthday to get a tattoo and did not decide on what to get until the day before (maybe even day of – I can’t remember). Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe it’s just God’s reminder for me. I tell people it symbolizes freedom but never elaborated on it. My freedom lies in Jesus, and He is definitely not a paper cut-out. I pray that I take after Him.

I hope I have the courage to leave again.

PS – I wish I had this much desire to write my policy paper as I do this blog entry… And I definitely wish I want to read articles as much as I love reading books.