My previous stream of consciousness post was a very cathartic experience and the responses I received left me reassured that my thoughts are not the equivalent of survivors shipwrecked on a remote island. Instead they’re like bubbles – floating through the air until they’re popped by a finger or they naturally cease to exist by their own accord. So why not do it again? I’m not sure where this post will end up so we’re going on this journey together. There will be no beverage service, unless you count the latte I’m currently sipping while typing away in a bustling coffee shop.
This past Saturday afternoon, after a full morning of baseball, I loaded the kids and Lucy into the car and escaped north to the Philly suburbs to spend the night with my sister and her family. Earlier that morning, I just felt the need to escape. Clay was away, we had no obligations after 12pm, and I really wanted a cheesesteak that night for dinner. As I battled traffic on 1-95N and left one major city for another, a low-key sense of calm took over my body – so much so that I didn’t even mind paying $2.00 for a regular-size bag of Peanut M&Ms at the Maryland House travel plaza. I truly felt like I was escaping for the night.
But escaping from what?
By all accounts, my life is good – happy and healthy marriage and kids and we’re stationed at a place we thoroughly enjoy living. I knew I wasn’t escaping from anything tangible but I couldn’t shake the feeling of freedom as I drove along the backroads of Maryland and Pennsylvania farmland toward the city. Was it because these were the roads I learned to drive on? Likely not. While I do feel a sense of homecoming whenever I visit my sister – the only one left of our family in the area, isn’t an overwhelming feeling of comfort – the kind you get when you spend your childhood and adolescence in one area. In some ways, I feel like an imposter when back in the Philly ‘burbs because I’ve been away for so long and my memories there don’t start until I was a teenager. If anything, I’m a fair-weather Philly gal with just as much allegiance to Arizona and Michigan.
Which makes me wonder – maybe I am just bred to want to escape. As a kid, I was always focused on the road ahead. When I was in 4th grade, I couldn’t wait until middle school. When I was in 7th grade, I couldn’t wait until high school. And by the time 10th grade rolled around, I was chomping at the bit to go away to college. Choosing a university near home wasn’t even on my radar – I was determined to go as far away as my parents would let me. And to be honest – there wasn’t really a reason why. High school was fine for me. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. My childhood was safe and happy. But I didn’t want to stay. I needed to escape.
Falling in love so young wasn’t part of my plan. Neither was getting married in my very early 20s. But love has a funny way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. And to be honest, the fact that Clay is the Army has been extremely seredipitous in regards to my apparent desire to escape because we literally pack up our lives and move every 1-3 years. Is it taking the easy way out by choosing a lifestyle that ensures I always have an escape plan? Luckily Clay has the same attitude about moving and settling as I do.
Over the years, I’ve met people who feel stuck for one reason or another – they can’t move because of extended family obligations, they can’t search for a new job because instability is scary, or they resign themselves down a certain path because of societal expectations. I’ll say that it’s incredible not ever feeling stuck because no matter how much we may not like living somewhere, we have reassurance that it is only temporary. We always have an escape plan.
My roots are intertwined with my husband’s and my kids’ but not anchored to anything but possibility. I love that description – anchored only in possibility.
We’re often asked where we want to settle when Clay retires from the Army and we always respond, “Hell if we know!” Maybe Colorado? Or Maine? Hawaii? Another country? We do love northern Arizona. The California coast is amazing. Montana would be cool too. Or northern Michigan. Perhaps Key West?
Aren’t longterm plans for the birds, anyway?
I’m sure wherever we end up by choice won’t be the last place we live. We will have an escape plan. It’s in our blood.
Okay then – I didn’t envision this post about going to Philly for the night turning into a manifesto about how we have no idea where we want to settle. Or if we want to settle at all. That’s the beauty of these stream of consciousness posts, I suppose.