I’ve often thought that disappearing without notice would be as good an exit as any. Leaving behind maybe a few bread crumbs for the curious but mostly wisping away in a flash of mystery. Forever. I’ve often thrown down these cards with hopes that someone would dare me to pull it off. But nobody ever did. And honestly, even if they had double-dogged me to, I’m not sure I’d have had the balls to do it anyhow. Still, I felt empowered thinking that maybe, just maybe, one day I’d be ready to walk off the world’s cliff and fall into an unhindered cloud of bliss. One second I am here, next second *POOF* I’m gone.
I still think this is a spectacular idea. However, I’m finding that as I get older I am less inclined to take it to the extreme that I might have as a younger man. These days I’d like to disappear for, oh I don’t know, maybe a month or two. Unannounced. Except that I’d tell Katie, of course. Oh, and probably my massage and yoga clients. Also I’d have to tell my part-time retail gig because I don’t want to leave them hanging. That wouldn’t be cool. And I’d probably tell my current MFA mentor so I don’t get dinged with a missing assignment. And I’d likely tell…aw shit, you see where this is going. Suddenly my so-called disappearance has lost its magic. It’s instead become a planned vacation of sorts and I’m considering posting pics of my spurious adventure on Facebook. And since this doesn’t fly with my desire to regularly travel to far-off and odd places, I end up canceling the whole darn thing and then fruitlessly pine for an adventure in a predictably cyclical spiral of gloom. Yep, this is how I roll these days.
For a long time I’ve been convinced that my itch to travel resulted from my “need to escape reality” (a past therapists’ words…or was it a girlfriend?…’tis no matter). Sure, when my chips were down I often sought out extended adventures – either opening up myself wide to wacky opportunities (that always materialized) or spinning the globe and choosing a destination to explore with my best pal Kent. A few colleagues have referred to me as “flaky” or a “short-timer” since they were never sure how much longer they could count on me being around. Some of my ex’s took my wanderlust personally and things always got ugly when conversations started dipping into this pool. Forever I’ve seen my longing to be elsewhere as a problem – until just recently when I read an interview in the Rumpus with author, Pam Houston.
Pam Houston is one of the faculty at my MFA program. You know her books, Cowboys are my Weakness, Contents May Have Shifted, and others equally brilliant. I briefly met her at my first residency in June when I also had a chance to listen to her do an amazingly personal and heartfelt craft talk. She was bouncing, sleepless, between her home in Colorado and the program in Oregon as wildfires threatened her ranch and animals, including two of my new favorite animals, mini-donkeys. Holy shit they are cute. Like, ridiculously so. They rival husky puppies. Yep, I said it. It’s true.
Anyhow, Rumpus’ July 17th interview is worth a read because it’s awesome – but the part within it that resonates most with me says that Pam, “identifies more with distant destinations than she ever did with her home.” Hey wait a minute – what? ME TOO! Let me read that again, she “identifies more with distant destinations than she ever did with her home.” Wow. Then comes an even better part when Pam says:
“Also, being in the presence of the “other” seems to show me who I am in a way that is really important to me. I feel radically more comfortable in Laos, say, than I do in Pennsylvania. I guess you might say my experience of the world is actually pretty ecstatic, and the more unfamiliar to me, the more ecstatic. Stillness is a harder concept for me than ecstasy, but I can imagine it best when I am fully present and paying strict attention to a place I am moving through.”
And after I read that I stopped Googling photos of mini-donkeys and started thinking about my next adventure. Not for the sake of disappearing. Not to make a statement. But rather because it’s what I truly need in this short life. I don’t know, I’m thinking this time maybe Russia or Peru or possibly even Romania? It’s of no matter, as long as I am completely out of place. Because then and only then will I be perfectly at home.