I ran away to South Carolina when I was 21. I was tired of being the only gay kid in an overprivileged suburban town. I was tired of the snow, and six months of grey skies, and Ohio. I was mostly tired of Ohio.
So I went to the beach, with $1000 I saved from working in a stock room.
I rented a studio apartment three blocks from the ocean, and
I found a shitty job at a restaurant that completely changed my life.
I was happy, for the first time ever. I was free.
I might have been born in Ohio, but I didn’t grow up there. I grew up 700 miles south, with strangers, friends, and the people who became my family. The family I chose; the family who understood. I grew up when I could finally stop worrying about who I was growing up for.
So much happened there, and I’ll be honest, some things I wish I could forget. Those things were messy. They hurt.
But with them, I grew.
Still, so much of it was beautiful, and
when I think about it now I can’t believe it was my life.
I don’t have many pictures to remember it by, but those are three of my favorites. Each from a wildly different time in my journey. Three stages that will stick with me forever.