Remember when you were four or five and the last thing you wanted to do was to leave the world that you knew, the world where you knew every single blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every knock on the door, and it was all so simple? So clear? So safe?
And remember when it was no longer any of those things?
I think we all go through phases—phases when the best thing in the world is the safe, the secure, the place where we know every person and every inch in it and phases when we want more than anything to run away to some place we’ve never been, to talk to people we’ve never seen, to immerse ourselves in the unknown.
For me, I’m far more likely to be in the second phase than the first. I moved away from home when I was sixteen and between that time and the time I turned thirty-two, I’d moved over thirty times. My desire to run has slowed down as I get older, as I acquire more things, but it’s still there. When I’m tired, unhappy, bored, I want to run away from home. I want to live somewhere I’ve never been, I want to meet people I don’t know, I want to walk down streets I’ve never seen. I want the challenge of moving, of learning to live in a new place.
I’ve done that a lot.
But it’s much more difficult at this stage of my life to run away, so I do something I’ve done for years—I run away in my head. A character in one of my books goes all the way in her dreaming; she accumulates clothes and books and money and hides it under her floorboards.
I’ve never gone this far in my planning, even in my head, but many times over the years I’ve traveled to faraway places, walked away many times. And each time I’ve done it, I’ve learned something. What I’ve mostly learned is that there’s power in a journey that isn’t taken, power in the planning of a life you’ll never live, power in choosing the unknown—even if you do it only in your head.
And I guess that’s why I became a writer, and how odd is it after all the years I’ve been a writer, that it’s only through writing this blog that I’ve finally figured out what drew me to writing.
It’s so I can walk away from the life I’m living and journey into the unknown.