Do you ever feel like running away? You take a look at your life and the things that occupy your time and concerns and want to say ‘Fuck-it-I’m-out-a-here?’ After taking that long and hard look at your daily doings, thoughts, worries, checkbook, mortgage, bills, work, etc, have you ever wanted to pack the wife/husband/spouse/partner/mate/whatever and kids and pets and all the rest of your shit in the car and get the hell out of Dodge and never come back?
When I was eight or nine years-old, I ran from the house in a fury and found myself out beyond the housing area on the perimeter road of the airbase where we lived in South Carolina. Maybe it was a fight with one of my sisters or after an ass-beating by my father for some real or imagined infraction, I don’t remember, but I can still feel the churning in my soul as I pounded my black converses into the rutted dirt road as I went as fast and far as I could on my little legs and with whatever child’s stamina I had at the time, just wanting to get the fuck away from where I lived and the people who populated my existence. I had run to the concrete pipe that the playground architects had planted in our backyard common area and thrown myself to the ground, hiding and trying to sneak like G.I. Joe, peeking around the pipe, and then launching myself out onto the road without caring who might have seen me at that point. I was heading away…running away. The road went for probably half a mile or more before it reached a point where it curved and went in a perpendicular direction down another side of the housing area. Where the road existed right behind my house, there was a strip of trees between the road and the perimeter fence that kept the rest of the world out of the base. That strip of trees and growth of brush was about 20 yards wide or more, or not, in my memory, and was constant until reaching that bend or curve in the road where the road turned in that perpendicular direction, wherever it was. The stand or ribbon of trees and brush became forest as the road turned and remained thick woods all along the road running in that other direction. I remember oak trees and bushes and other wonderful things that changed colors in the fall and winter. This is where we found the cottonmouth snake that some of my friends and other unknown kids beat with the sissy-bar from a bike until it was approaching death. I went further down the road and found another place to hide, safely out of sight of whoever might come out from our house and look for me. I guess I was closer to the spot where there was a stream or little body of water where we found the snapping turtle on one of our other excursions into the wilderness…. Anyway, as I was sitting there, I realized that I had nowhere to go really, no means of buying food, no way of securing a place to live, and I understood that I would have to return home. The thought sucked, but even at eight or nine, I knew I had to…and did…and life went on.
A couple months ago, my wife and little one and I made the trek back up to Utah to look at the things that had become familiar to us and them as my wife, little one, and other kids lived there for a year as my wife finished her internship. My wife also had to meet with one of her former colleagues to receive training on one of her testing tools…so we took another trip…another nine or so hours north into the forested and mountainous beyond, that further region that sparks flames of recollection and comfort in my heart and stirs my physical being with a yearning to live again in parts so adorned with that particular brand or sort of nature’s splendor…massive white rocks and boulders and pine trees and oaks and other deciduous trees with their many and changing colors of bright and vibrant reds and purples and yellows and golden fading greens, spread and dappled in and among the coniferous evergreens and icy cold streams of clear and trickling, bubbling, and rumbling waters coming from their mountainous and craggy origins up beyond the thinning air, in and among the wispy and transient gray and white and comforting, threatening clouds that danced in and among themselves to cast eerie shadows and darkening corners into the fore and peripheries of our consuming and piercing eyes, mine and my bride’s and my little one’s as we drove the mountain highways and roads in and among that paradise…in and among…. And those thoughts of running away came again in and among our family gatherings with those adult children who lived there with my wife and little one and their grown siblings who were themselves on the threshold of changing life and lives, and I was absent when the conversation started and was there after solid and tentative and wishful dreaming decisions were made to pack and flee fast and far to that known region where nature’s god kisses and nurtures its inhabitants with a clean respect and calmness and ease of simpler life amid the beauty that consoles an aching heart. We talked and talked and searched our minds and rational places that considered jobs and money and insurance and opportunities and a weak housing market and upside-down mortgages and possibilities and a safer environment and better schools and a stream in the backyard with deer eating from the crab-apple trees and a ten minute drive into the wooded beyond where the quiet is touched by the burbling water and the whisking bicycle riders all strapped and decorated so we can see them and their striped bike-shorts and helmets and a work week was a steady thing and normal and quiet evenings of no rush and rest and all but one of the kids agreed…and there were tear-laden emails of broken hearts and he’s grown so old and independent and remains attached in a distant way and we considered family and what matters and peace and togetherness and looked again in our mind’s eye at that northern sky and thought it wouldn’t be as sweet if one couldn’t come with us…and he wouldn’t for all those reasons so detailed and clear and fuck-it we’re not going and other people’s milestones and deaths and comforts shared in their cases of what if and how, and a peace came at and with that decision and it’s ok now…really…I think.
But the yearning is still there and strong to break away from the daily requirements of life and adulthood and responsibility and making ends meet and thoughts of the future and mine and hers and the little one’s and the other kids whom we love and adore and cannot imagine living without…until they choose to go away and be away and decide some aren’t welcome, so stay away, both you and me, he said…and that long northern highway beckons still and says ‘follow me,’ and it’s not a yellow-bricked road. So peace and paradise is and are sought in words and imaginings and pursuits that entertain and appease and settle and comfort in their sudden and sundry ways, in unexpected presentation in our lives and hidings and places tucked-away…as our minds and souls so desire to run, run, run-away…sometimes…still.