People in my life question the choices I’ve made since I last wrote a post for this blog. I will not squeeze myself into the constructs they’ve built for me. Perhaps some of them will read here and gain understanding. Perhaps not.
The short story below is one I wrote at the same time I was writing posts for this blog. It does not reflect my reality at the time or now. This story is a manifestation of my struggle with a problem I had yet to identify.
I remember when digital surround sound first came out in theatres. Before the start of the film, the audience would be informed of the use of this new technology. A tone would be played throughout the theatre, so that the audience could experience the enhanced auditory experience of surround sound. The sound would seem to start small and to gradually grow. The effect was impressive. I would think that the sound had reached it’s zenith, but it would continue to swell until it became almost oppresive to my ears.
This is how I best describe what preceeded the life choices I have made during the last two years since I wrote the short story below. For me, the sound started small in 2008. It continued to swell until I could no longer ignore it.
One thing about the short story below that is accurate is that my life was out there somethere, waiting for me to find it.
During the first week of March she walked out of her life. It seemed very sudden to everyone except her. She did not know when the process of disengagement began. Perhaps it was on Christmas day when the power went out in half of the house, and she finally voiced her dislike of the home they had rented for the last 12 years. In January she noticed her growing apathy towards her daily routine. Laundry on Monday, preschool Tuesday, groceries Wednesday, garbage pickup Thursday, cleaning Friday, laundry again Saturday. Sunday was a vacuum of time she was forced to wade through each week. By February she had developed a tolerance for her children that she had never before felt. Her talent for patience with children had never extended to her own. Her toddler son’s verbal gaffes no longer amused her. Her daughter’s sleeping form no longer moved her. She wasn’t alarmed by her indifference towards her two children. It was a relief, actually, to no longer become emotionally involved in their screaming matches.
She began to feel like an interloper, and by the first week in March she knew she was living someone else’s life. She woke up one morning to find that somewhere between the wedding cake 12 years ago (alternating lays of chocolate and banana, white icing, fresh flowers on top) and that crockpot dish she liked to make (always forgetting that her husband couldn’t eat it on account of the cream of chicken soup she used), she had strayed from her intended path. Maybe she should have acted on her idea, when she was 13, of running away to live with that relative who lived far away. If only she had been brave enough then, how different her life might have been that first week of March.
She found it interesting no one else seemed to notice that she was falling out of step with her environment. The last week in February she accompanied her parents and children to the all-you-can-eat buffet in town. Her husband was working. He was always working. Her children ate quickly and began happily chasing each other around the mostly empty dining room. She sighed, and it occurred to her how tired she had been feeling recently.
Her parents’ conversation centered around the tenderness of the chicken breast and the way the green beans were seasoned. “Mmm-hmm,” She would murmur occasionally. She had lost interest in food, and she struggled to remember when she herself had made comments about ribs and peanut butter pie. Certainly she had at some point, but on this day she was distracted by her own overwhelming boredom.
She had always felt drawn to water, and she thrived during the summer months. She began to research southern cities—Atlanta or Memphis. And weren’t there islands off of the Carolinas? She became convinced that her life was somewhere else, waiting for her to find it. She spent time looking at photographs and maps on websites. She checked rental listings.
Of course there was the matter of money. She couldn’t very well walk out of her life without any way to support herself once she got to her destination. She and her husband did not have savings. There was money her husband had put into the stock market a couple of years ago, but that wasn’t much, and she didn’t know how to get to it without her husband knowing. She had a life insurance policy that she could cash in for a couple of thousand dollars. That would work for traveling money. She also had a retirement account that she could cash in. That would get her started until she found a job.
It was Monday, the first week of March. Tomorrow was the day. She sat in her dining room and envisioned the following day. She would take her daughter to school at 7:30, her son to preschool at 9:00. It would 1:00 before anyone noticed that she was gone. The first alert would occur when she did not show up to retrieve her son. The preschool teachers would call her phone. She would not answer. They would call her husband at work. He would have to leave, which would irritate him—a necessary inconvenience. It would do him good, she thought, to have to take over when it came to caring for the children. She wondered if her son would be upset. Not likely, she decided. He loved preschool, and she didn’t think he was old enough to realize that she was gone permanently. At least, not that day. Her daughter would be in school until 2:30. Her daughter would be upset—no—terrified—but that thought did not linger in her mind.
She smiled as she saw the sign for I95 south. She felt the tension drain from her body—left behind on the highway.