How to recognize you must escape

Photo by dev null

My hands shake as I pass through security at Reagan National Airport.

It's 3 p.m on a Friday, the day before Independence Day. My flight has already been canceled once, cutting a day off my long-anticipated vacation. Departure time is good-god-get-me-out-here-three-months-ago. And all my anxiety is bottled in 3-oz containers safely stowed on my carry-on.

What worries me? Not the possibility I might never arrive, but that I might never leave. I lose my breath looking at the sweeping arches in the main terminal. Exploration pulses under under my skin, a throb that signals the desire -- no, the need -- to bolt.

If I don't run (away? to?), I will explode. I must plant my feet on different terra firma or risk rotting on the vine. I must gather different faces around me or threaten my friendships with the usual suspects. I must sleep on a different pillow, hold fresh conversations, encounter uncommon smells, and above all renew my sense that I am NOT a boring homebody, NOT a caged animal, NOT a host or coworker or roommate.

For one weekend, I must be only me, and my life must not look the same as it has for the past 6, 8, 10, god-I-can't-even-remember months.

I collect my boarding pass. I wander through the bathroom. I make some phone calls, jot notes in my journal. I breathe deep, so for a brief moment, I'm not suffocating beneath the helplessness that has dogged me for several seasons.

I know escape doesn't solve problems, but it sure can alleviate them. For that reason above all others, get me the hell out of Dodge.

Ah, time to board. My heart bounces down the ramp, buckles its seatbelt. And then Earth as I know it falls away, obscured by clouds.