Taking my leave...of leaving
Lots of random thoughts here tonight, so as Steve Winwood would say...roll with it baby!
I have a real penchant for fiction about women who leave. All through my dating life I was a women who left. I was never "broken up with," I always did the leaving, the breaking. I used to wear this as a badge of honor. Now it's just more like a fact. A fact about which a therapist would no doubt have something astute to declare.
My cousin left Vermont at around age 21 or so and drove to Colorado. No map, so the story goes. No destination. No sense of direction. Just packed, got in her car one night at dusk, and headed west. She was immediately my hero. Since then, whenever things have gotten, to my estimation, out of control, or dissatisfying, or boring, I dream of going to Colorado. I have written poems of leaving. I have a novel idea about a woman who leaves, in particular, a mom who leaves with her son on a wild journey. Leaving has always, always appealed to me.
So, I just finished Jodi Piccault's Songs of the Humback Whale. I usually don't like to read what everyone is reading--didn't read DaVinci Code until my mom's bookclub decided to. Didn't read Oprah books until everyone stopped talking about them. I don't do "this summer's beach reads." And, since it seems Jodi Piccault is everywhere, I didn't have any interest in reading her. Wrong-headed, I know. But, two years ago at a used bookstore in Cape Cod, I found this very interesting book about a women who leaves. She has an incident with her husband and takes her teenage daughter across the country, guided not by a keen sense of direction, but by letters from her brother. It is written in 5 voices. I loved the idea a narrative in five voices, especially the letters, and, of course, I loved the leaving!
Two years later, I finally read it. It's great. Unexpectedly, it has changed my idea of leaving. At least a little. At least for now. Their adventure starts off full of promise, full of excitement. It ends badly. And, it ends, for a leave-taking-lover, disappointingly. I won't give it away, but, suffice to say, she did not ride off into the sunset. At least, not in the way I was rooting for.
Adventure. Everyone needs a little adventure in their lives, especially moms, right? Doesn't adventure make you a more well-rounded person? Less boring, less bored with life? Women's travel stories are exotic and enticing. Anne Tyler's fiction about women who leave and change their lives is empowering.
Then, I read a blog about tea. And haiku. And simplicity. And the kitchen. And I realized, some part of my soul wants to travel to Tibet and sleep in a hut, and some part wants to hop in the car and drive to Colorado and be a llama trekking guide, but I can't save enough money to do that. And I like my books, all 1,000 of them (I'm estimating!). 1,000 books just won't fit in a car or on a plane. And I like tea, in my kitchen, with my best friend. I even like margaritas in my living room while I work on my blog and my husband fixes computers in the basement. I would miss him. And I'm not even going to talk about my kids. Now that I'm a mom, the only leaving I'm doing is to the nail place to get a pedicure, and all the better if everyone there is speaking Vietnamese. I'll feel like I've packed my Pathfinder at dusk and left without a map.