I dream of driving with no clear destination in mind. East, I’ve decided, toward my tenuous meandering roots; I shall head east. Wrong age and wrong sex to go the other way, after all. I’ve been sick again, sick enough for the walls to close in on me, sick enough for my hypercritical self-examination to go into overdrive. I need to get away from myself.
My flight instinct is strong, has been since I remember. I was always trying to get away from her, away from her anger and the maelstrom it blew through us all. When I was seven, I took a seashell, a lovely seashell that I had convinced myself I could sell to live; and, in a teary fury, rode my bicycle eleven miles to the nearest town. Once there, however, I had no clue to my next step. I rode back, told my father what I had done. “I hate her, she’s mean.”
As the years passed, I repeated this behavior to the point of ridiculousness, learned every groove and pothole on that highway to Rocky Mount, let the escape encompass more than her, let it subsume my shortcomings, my mistakes, my inability to face a world with consequences. I’ve run away from me more times than I can count.
After I got married and had children, I ran away less and, when I did, I took a child with me, Jessica coast to coast and back during a horrid time in my marriage, Robert around the southwest when I couldn’t abide my locale. Sometimes, we all ran away together, though I doubt they saw it that way. Their vacation was my run from normal. I’m not cut out for normal. Too much normal and the need to run bubbles up inside of me until I feel like I will simply burst from my own skin, leaving behind a puddle of flesh and fat reminiscent of bad horror flicks.
But this is no flick; this is my life. And I am bubbling. I dream of driving east. East, until I see the Atlantic, until I walk on the jellyfish-strewn beach and feel the humid, mosquito-laden air, until I smell the spraying salt and hear the crackling sea oats. And I will sit there and drink it in and wish I could stay in that moment forever. But moments are not finite. I’d have to eat to live, thereby allowing the normal to seep in again, not to mention the guilt, and the need, but not necessarily the want, to come back home.