I recently went on a nostalgia bender. That involves watching 1990s music videos on YouTube. Cher – Do You Belieeve in a Thiiiing Called Love! 4 Non Blondes! Madonna – Beautiful Stanger! Lou Bega! Len! And Soul Asylum…
Runaway Train was released when I was 14. I always liked it, if I thought it was a little sad. But I’d never watched the video. A little sad?!
It chronicles the details of about 12 children who have missing on America’s streets since 1990. Some, like Thomas Gibson (b 1988), have officially been pronounced dead. Others, like Byron Eric Page (b 1974) are still missing.
I remember Nearly Running Away. I wrote a note and packed my things and everything. I had my toothbrush and Chewy, my pink rabbit. Things at home weren’t like the events depicted in Runaway Train; my parents weren’t abusive or drunk. The reason I decided to run away was because I didn’t feel safe. Because I thought dad was out to get me.
I vividly remember being by the front door, with my toothbrush and cuddly rabbit, and, in the end, I went back upstairs. I think I ate the note (I used to eat paper). I don’t know what made me turn back, because my head was urging me to go. It was like an irresistible force, making me open the door. But I didn’t. If memory serves, I cried for days and prayed and cried and prayed. But I stayed at home.
That’s why this video resonated with me. I was very very very naïve. I would have been murdered or picked up by some awful pimp. And looking at the photos of these children, they would have been too. Wilda Mae Benoit has been left a cryptic message by her sister – he’s been sober a long time now – but I fear that for Wilda Mae, she was taken in by people who prey on the vulnerable. And she didn’t escape, much like I wouldn’t have done.
Watching this video, I not only keep the memory of Ginger Sue Gudson et al alive, but I give thanks I turned back all those years ago.
Otherwise I’d be included in some lust like that in the video. And I can’t emphasise how close an escape I had.
Resquiat in pacem, children.