Tuesday, January 22, 2008

all we have is an old ball of string

There is a certain kind of children's story, a formula that is quite popular. The quintessential example of it is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: the story of a child who is perfectly ordinary in our world, who travels through a magical portal to another land, where they play a key role in the battle between good and evil. There was a time when almost all the stories I read followed this pattern, promising another world, a world where struggle had meaning and bravery was worth something. I wanted so badly for this to be true that I'm sure that if wanting could make anything real, this would have become real.

It didn't, of course. Looking back, I wonder if my desperation was a yearning toward a better world, or fear spurring me to get away from the situation I was in, although maybe that question isn't even a true question; maybe it was both. I thought for a while that I had a grip on things in the real world that I wanted enough to keep me from wishing I was away, but these days I'm feeling it again: the urge to escape, to run away, to abandon my life to become a different person in a world where the colors are deeper, the pains fiercer and the joys brighter.

The problem is that everything that I want to escape from is what I would take with me. My physical pain, my bad skin and limp hair, my aspie personality and my preoccupation with death are not things I can separate from myself and so I am stuck. My prison bars are made of my flesh, and even if a doorway opened in front of me and I walked through it I would be imprisoned exactly the same.

I tell myself this over and over, but the desire to drop everything and run won't leave me alone. I hear a roadtrip in the music on the radio, I walk to the mailbox and the decaying leaves on the lawn smell of old-growth forest paths. The distant sound of the highway sounds like the ocean, the heating oven shimmers like the empty desert, and the ache to be somewhere else is almost physical.

This afternoon I went to the park. It was freezing cold and the park was empty, although there were footprints in the dusting of snow that said that one or two people had been there before me. I wrapped myself up in a scarf and walked along taking pictures of the brittle, brown plants. There was a spot where, looking through the leafless branches, I could see that off the paved running path there was a break in the bushes that could be walked through; the snow made it through the brush where branches had been pushed aside, highlighting the way like a white ribbon. I'm not usually one for trampling on wildlife off the marked paths, but there was no one else in shouting distance today and I couldn't resist the sensation of leaving what I knew.

In the end, the way came out again and I was back in reality, still the same person I've always been. I think there probably is no way to escape.

1 comment:

Elizabeth McClung said...

A very nice capturing of the magical road - have you seen Pan's Labyrinth; for me this is more of what I expected, pain and suffering, fear and wonder tied up in unseperated packages. I know the feeling of escape and every six months or so I do an "escape attempt" which teaches me that the prison and the baggage I want to leave behind are often intertwined (my body). Since the brain transfer to bionic bodies doesn't seem soon (TV promises notwithstanding), I sigh, I take my pills, and I try to do SOMETHING a little crazy (maybe spend $5 for no good reason at all!).