Do you ever want to just pack up and start over, somewhere far, far away? A cabin the woods, a hut in another country, the side of a mountain, somewhere, anywhere, just…away from here?
I asked Vinnie this on the drive home from the store, all of our kids sitting in the backseats of our minivan, our trunk-filled with groceries, a week of plans with family and friends ahead of us..
Uh…no. Was his (not unexpected) reply.
I turned to the window and watched the houses, the cars, looked for the bits of brown grass poking up beneath the patches of snow.
What makes the feeling odd, is that I am not in an unhappy place. I’m not in need of a boost of joy or a new adventure to distract me from something dark or sad or lonely or bored.
I am in a strange, cluttered place. A busy, overloaded, place. I’m in a maybe-sometimes-it’s-too-much-of-a-good-thing-and-I-just-need-a-nap, place.
It’s a crowded room, full of wonderful people, and yet, I want to run. Hard. I want to just go until my legs give out and my lungs are burning and I’ve put so many miles behind me that I’m lost. And alone.
My goodness, being alone for a moment. Can you imagine?
As I type this, Alex is fidgeting non-stop in the recliner beside me, huffing over a math problem. Asher and Evaline are banging away on their laptop, he’s helping her learn how letters go together to make words. And, Lila, is sulking because I’ve just asked her, for the umpteenth time, to please just stop talking and do her work.
The dishwasher is whirring away. Cars are passing, probably keeping Vinnie awake as he’s trying to sleep. Work is waiting for me to get back to it, as emails and notifications ping at me.
To be alone…and not just behind a locked bathroom door, barking at your kids to stop knocking and let you just take a shower in peace. But, actually, truly, alone.
Can you see it? It’s a neatly made bed in a quiet room, offering rest. It’s a hilltop at sunrise, stirring inspiration in a weary soul. It’s the ocean, smoothing itself over the sand and reminding you of your smallness. It’s walking along the side of a long, long road, with a blank journal tucked under your arm.
I imagine the stillness, sometimes, like when I stare out the car window and try to see how far the horizon stretches, and I realize, suddenly, that I’m starving.
How could I have gone for so long without realizing this hunger building?
Yesterday, I apologized to Lila, when she came with me for a jog, which then turned into a walk, as I was going too fast for her legs to stay in stride with mine. She then clucked on for the entire forty-five minutes, about things (a cartoon) that she’s passionate about. Things I wish I could care more about, for her sake. Things I had to nod and smile at, even though I desperately wanted to tell her, please, walks are for thinking, not talking.
I came home, more in need of time away than before I’d left.
Motherhood, marriage, womanhood, work, friendships, being human, it’s all a lot.
It’s a lot of apologizing, or thinking that I ought to, for the many (many) things I say, or the things I should have done better, the time or energy that I can’t give, though I want to.
For me, it’s a lot of learning, and relearning, to accept that I am who I am in this (cluttered, messy, busy, crowded-room) moment.
And to perhaps start to accept that there are times, when allowing yourself the freedom to disappear, to unplug, might just be the least of all things you should ever apologize for – and the best of all the things you can do for those (wonderful, good, happy, fulfilling) relationships in your life.
On that note, if you see me heading full-tilt toward the mountains, or staring off into the ocean like I’m lost, or, even just zoning out in the check-out line of Market Basket while the kids in the cart behind me are squealing or throwing their shoes on the ground…just leave me be.
I’ll come back.
I always do.