Status: Just getting started!

The Paper Trail

Ideas That Stick Like Glue

The idea was introduced to me innocently enough. During one of our many sleepovers in middle school, my good friend Meghan and I witnessed a news story about a Welsh rock star who had simply vanished six years prior. His car was found parked by the Severn Bridge; a notorious suicide spot in the area, but there was no sign the man himself anywhere. In the six years since his disappearance, he had never resurfaced nor was a body ever found. Of course, there was the obvious theory that he had tragically committed suicide and the body was never recovered due to it’s being in the river all this time, but many others had a different theory. Those who scoffed at the suicide theory and refused to believe their idol was dead had put their faith in the idea that he had made a conscience decision to walk away from his life and never return again… I don’t think Meghan ever thought about the story of the vanishing rock star again after that night, but the story stuck with me hard. I began thinking about what someone would need to do to go about leaving their life and starting over like that; how he could have covered his tracks and how he could have procured whatever identity it was he was using now (assuming the theory were true).

Not long after that night, my mother took me to the mall with her. There I found the latest album by the band who was now one man down, and it quickly became one of my favorites. I also snuck off to the bookstore at one point during this shopping trip and “acquired” a book entitled ‘How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found’. Not knowing what others would think of my newfound “obsession”, I hid the book and never mentioned my new interest to anyone (something I was later very grateful for… could you imagine how obvious everything would have been when I finally decided to go through with everything had anyone found that book lying around?).

Despite my keen interest in the subject, it wasn’t until years later that I actually considered disappearing myself. Initially, my interest in the subject was strictly in a “how does this work?” or “what could have happened in this particular case?” sort of way. Sure, my middle school years were full of angst and I’m sure there were many times when I declared, “I HATE MY LIFE!!!” or “I hate this family! I wish I were never born into it, you guys SUCK!!!”, but it was never over much more than my parents’ refusal to let me attend a concert on a school night or get a particular piercing. That, or it was an over-the-top, adolescent reaction to getting grounded over something that, looking back, I probably should have been grounded for in the first place.

Overall, I was a relatively happy 13-year-old girl. Though I had lost my father to cancer just a few years prior, which was devastating, I did a much better job at “dealing with the loss” at the time, and it wasn’t until a few years later that everything started to build up on top of each other. I think I spent the majority of those first few years after his death avoiding actually dealing with it through means of distraction, but as time went on these means of so-called “dealing” became harder and harder to keep up with. Not only were the feelings and struggles related to losing my father started to show themselves in a very loud and impossible-to-ignore manner, but other stressed and anxieties were beginning to build up on top of all of that, which really started to wear me down.

Music and art had always been a big part of my life, and my biggest means of venting my feelings and otherwise expressing myself. They also became the main things I drowned myself in to distract from the things in my life (losing my father, for example) that simply expressing my feelings through creative measures didn’t seem to make much of a dent in. I found that writing about other things; surrounding myself with and getting completely engrossed in these ideas; helped to keep my mind away from the things I couldn’t seem to handle. I had started a little band with my brother and a couple friends my freshman year, but we were nothing impressive. Despite having all been interested in music for years, we were all in the baby stages of actual musicianship, and were still learning a lot of the skills it took to be a successful band and accomplished songwriters. I played lead guitar while Meghan was on bass and lead vocals. My brother, Chad, took on the drums and rounded out the rhythm section. Chad and I were less than two years apart in age and had always been close. He had been playing a little longer than the rest of us, and did a lot to hold us together as a musical unit. Meghan and I both would bring lyrics to the table, and everyone worked together on the actual music. I also used my artistic skills to design our logos, album covers, and even silk screened about 25 t-shirts that we took a loss selling/giving away to mostly family members and friends we’d make come to our concerts in my garage. The band itself may not be anything worth bragging about, but it’s where I got my start musically which foreshadowed a lot of the goals I set for myself later in life. Aside from that it was also my main source of enjoyment during those first few years in high school.

It wasn’t until I reached probably my second year of high school that the depression and anxiety really started to hit me. Not only had losing my father so young and not dealing with it properly taken its toll on me, but I was also struggling in a large way with (among other things) living with a daily routine that I despised, and feeling completely overwhelmed by the lack of control I had over the situation. I was beginning to feel like the things I really enjoyed in life could never take me anywhere, and that I would be stuck in a routine full of school or jobs that I couldn’t stand for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong; I completely understand that this is a very common feeling for teens and especially young adults to have, in particular the creative/artistic individuals who are constantly told that their passion for music or art will never take them anywhere in life. And, of course, everybody has to make a living. I think that fact in and of itself also got to me, and made me feel more anger towards society and more anxiety towards the situation. I felt like the things that everyone else not only also has to deal with, but somehow manages to deal with seemingly flawlessly were just way too much for me. If everybody else in the world can manage to be at least okay with these things that the vast majority of the population has to put up with on a day-to-day basis, why does it all have to be so hard on me? Why am I laying awake at night stressing over these things, while most everyone else didn’t think once (let alone twice) about the subject all day? Why do I seem to be ill-equipped to handle the average life of a human being?

Though these anxieties and questions that didn’t seem to have any answers depressed me, this also isn’t what caused me to make the decision I made. Or, at least it’s not the sole reason I made that decision. After all, this was just how I was feeling by my sophomore year of high school, and it wasn’t until I was 21 years old that I finally made the call to leave everything and everyone behind for what I hoped would be a better life.

I tried drugs for the first time sometime during my junior year, and though I seemed to be able to keep my use under control for the most part, the fact that I liked them so much troubled me a bit. Of course, this was high school and I wasn’t doing anything hard, but I had gotten into weed a bit and really into Vicodin and similar prescription painkillers. During this time, Meghan (the friend with whom I first heard about the vanishing rock star) was going through a bit of a rough patch, and she had been the one to introduce me to a lot of these things. I would never blame my drug use on her, though. I made the decision on my own, and I was the one who showed an interest in it versus her peer pressuring me in any way.

Things at home weren’t the best for her at this point in our lives, so she had moved in with her grandparents, who just so happened to live a few blocks from where I was living with my parents. Also coincidentally, both of our houses were mere blocks from the school, and after rushing out of the school at lunch time one afternoon when Meghan didn’t show up without word (which had left me worried she had overdosed or something equally as horrible), we got into the habit of skipping many of our classes, multiple times a week. Most of these afternoons were spent just hanging out and getting high or working on stuff for the band at one of our houses while our parents/grandparents worked. Eventually this came back to bite us both in the ass when my mother and her grandfather both received phone calls from the principal regarding our attendance, causing my mom to decide that Meghan was clearly a bad influence and declaring that we could no longer hang out (I’m sure Meghan’s grandfather probably saw me as the bad influence, since no one is ever willing to admit that maybe their child made a bad choice on their own or because of their parenting. It always has to be from some outside source). This ridiculous declaration just lead to us sneaking around to hang out, seeing as we didn’t really have any good friends outside of each other. Besides, we were teenagers filled to the brim with angst who weren’t going to take any kind of bullshit lying down. Also, our grades were beginning to slip drastically due to missing so much school, which proceeded to put even more pressure on us from our parents and guaranteed long periods of grounding that we would then ignore and get ourselves in even more trouble until my mother and I were in daily screaming matches. (As an adult, it’s clear that I caused most of this to happen, but at the time I was so overwhelmed in general that I couldn’t handle the added stress, and likely made a bigger deal out of the situation than I needed to, but the past is the past and nothing will undo it).

Throughout high school, I really didn’t think too much about the concept of vanishing. I kept my book hidden in the back of my bookshelf and continued to listen to the band who’s former guitarist first sparked the idea for me, but the idea itself sat dormant pretty much consistently until about a year after my high school graduation. At that point it had been 13 years since the disappearance I had first heard of all those years ago, and, according to an article I ran across on a music news site, the missing guitarist was finally legally being presumed dead. This major change in his case caused a lot of upset amongst his fandom, since the majority of them truly didn’t believe he was dead. For me, I also didn’t believe he was dead (that would have ruined the whole fantasy factor behind his disappearance), but I did understand where the family was coming from, and why they likely did this. I’m sure having the case left open for all these years made it really hard for his family and friends to get any sort of closure regarding their loved one, as well as everyone involved probably realizing by now that, despite what may or may not have happened, it was obviously that he wasn’t going to be coming back. I would also argue that even if he is out there somewhere, he’s out there living a completely different life as somebody completely different, and therefore it wasn’t entirely inaccurate to say that his former identity, the one who had been declared a missing person, was now dead. Me personally, I looked at the choice his family made as a good thing, because, as I said, I felt it would help the family heal and that it wasn’t completely inaccurate. The main impact this declaration had on my life was bring this idea back to the forefront of my mind. I had started going back and re-reading about his case and going over all the facts again, re-reading the book I had bought on disappearances as a middle schooler, as well as purchasing another book I had discovered online that had been written by a skip tracer (someone who’s expertise is in finding people who are missing/trying not to be found) and supposed to be the best book out there on the subject. This book was simply called “How To Disappear”, and this ended up being my bible when I was trying to plan out everything for my own disappearance; the one thing that made me feel confident in my abilities to pull it off.
♠ ♠ ♠
Not sure if I'll eventually end up combining this chapter with the next one. I guess it depends on how the next one comes out, but for now, here's a little something more to read (if anyone is reading this, lol).

[Edit: another paragraph was added to the middle of this chapter and a slight alteration added later on hours after this chapter was originally posted! If you read this right away, you may want to go back and see if you missed anything!)