A Hooded Cloak for a Lovely Day
I cannot get away from this because I no longer recall what I am running from. That’s a good gig there, being chased by sad little demons unable to be remembered, or running for so long that it’s less a compulsion than a tedious habit of uncertain origins.
So my torments have no local habitation and no name, but still I run, walk really, away from them, a gnarled line from a here to some there. Any there will do in these moments, so I go in a northern way. And now I’m at some there, not sure which one and it really does not matter because I am away. I am also unsettled and without resolution and absent any anticipated contentment. This is one lousy getaway; it’s striking how a lack of planning can ruin things in so many areas of life. I feel like I found the monkey’s paw and wasted a wish on a can of soda because I was hot.
Someone sits next to me without asking, as people using public seats are wont to do, breaking my reverie but jump-starting a new thought: If the archetypal escape is dramatic, distant, and solitary, why do I always get away with people?
The answer is easy–I am without the archetypal need to escape. When I slide out from my office during the day with the intent to escape, I head not to a local monastery or obscure part of the river, but instead through busy streets and teeming areas. Liberation is clearly a contextual experience. To be fair, Boston doesn’t provide many places during the day where one can truly be alone, but now I’m begging the hell out of a question: If I’m not even seeking to leave my city limits, this can’t be considered an escape, now can it? And escaping on a lunch break must be a contradiction of terms.
I find myself embarrassed at my own weak plans (making me on the lame, no?), at putting myself in the company of those who warrant so grand a concept as escape. Aung San Suu Kyi, Darfuris, abused spouses, and Jason Leary in the publishing department at a local research company. Yeah, something is a bit off on that list.
Upon returning to my desk, I hit the Escape key on my computer to get away from myself, but I’m still here. As the air-conditioning kicks on and a colleague says hi in soft office tones as he passes, reverie two comes. I have no need to escape from anything, not really. My life is either of my own making or the results of the right people. My worst day professionally is just not that bad. My worst day personally will likely not result in starvation or being gored by animals.
Perhaps those my age are with me. We’re in the building decade of our time here, and while we cannot choose all of our characters, we’re staying for the end of the play. We’re past the age of fleeing to Europe (to be with like-minded people of a similar age, mind you) or artistic suicides, and far from motorcycle-buying sprees and quotidian suicides. Can we get some “Glory Days” on the jukebox, please?
Of course a good life, one free of animal gorings, is not without its horrific situations that require escape, but escaping a lousy circumstance differs from escaping from a society and an era. We come from a rough heritage, and our genetics have placed us here because our forbears survived. Now our sense of survival is of course real to us, but the context between then and now may as well be from another world. So I embrace my desire as something chromosomal and I accept the need to get away as legitimate within our context. There is high value in the anticipation of return, not to mention the perspective that comes the side on the crappy grass side.
My day of non-work now complete, my other lives await. I reach for my hooded cloak out of habit, but leave it as I head home. There will be other days.