your pal, erin

Author & Psychic Superhero

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

AS I sit at my computer, mere hours before The Connect goes to print, I am obstinate about writing this week’s column. It’s an admission that’s too shameful to put in print. But I’ve committed myself, so here goes...

Recently, it’s come to my attention that I am a 42 year-old single mother of a problem child. She is somewhere between the ages of pre-school and high school on any given day and I am obligated to her care and feeding until she presents as a full-fledged adult.

And by problem child, I mean me.

For the most part, I’m a happy, productive member of society, but every so often my kid lets her freak flag fly…and not in a good way. I overreact to misunderstandings and do embarrassing things that I get to apologize for later. My heart is always in the right place, but it’s deeply wounded and sometimes my inner Larry David gets the best of me.

For 26 years I’ve been on the lam, but trying to escape myself is like trying to sever my shadow. Whenever I step into the light, there she is.

And so, I’ve resorted to self-medicating. Fear of commitment is my drug of choice. And what do I have to show for it? Twenty-eight known addresses, twenty-six “day” jobs and a college degree that’s short by twelve Gen Ed credits that should’ve been completed my freshman year.

It’s a compulsion I like to call“Moving Duck Syndrome” in honor of the shooting gallery at a penny arcade. Hit me and you’ll win the giant bear.

Two winters ago when my father was thought to be on his deathbed in New England, my former college boyfriend picked me up at the airport and drove me to his bedside. Upon seeing him, my dad pulled down his oxygen mask and rasped, “I hope you don’t plan on getting back together with this one. She only sticks around for a couple of years and then she moves on.”

I’ve lived in six different cities, all of them amazing hiding places, with plenty of nooks and crannies to evade my inner freak; all of them except for Savannah. To quote the ER nurse who treated me that time I went to a rooftop bar and wound up getting roofied, “Savannah is a small town with big city problems.”  (See also: Lauren Flotte’s farewell column, ‘Savannah, I love you—but get your $*#% together’). 

There’s something about this city’s microcosm that forces you to confront your inner freak. But before I do, can I just say that the only thing more alarming than the experience of being roofied is the number of people I’ve encountered who have their own “time I got roofied in Savannah” story? I’d love to see that one on the “Top Five Reasons to Visit Savannah” Facebook page (she said, in her best Larry David voice.) But I digress...

For all the times I’ve been at Savannah’s mercy, I’ve never felt the inherent need for this city to get its shit together. Perhaps that’s because someone once told me that Savannah was conceived as an utopia. When it comes to urban planning, you can’t get a more effed-up blueprint than that. So why bother fighting an inherently flawed design?

If anything, Savannah is the one screaming at me, “Get your shit together! Stop falling apart every time someone hurts your feelings and quit running away. Use your God given gifts to help others rather than obsessing about yourself…and for chrissakes, commit to something, already! Even if it’s just 700 words per week.”

By committing to this column, I can no longer hide from my inner freak show. And so, I face her everyday.

Okay… I procrastinate in dealing with her until Jim Morekis comes calling. And then I stare her straight in the face.

In the meantime, I might as well let my freak flag fly.   

Originally published in Connect Savannah (p. 61)