i always want to be somewhere else.
i’m not going to lie and say i didn’t consider just staying in phoenix last week. the morning before i left i entertained the idea heavily. “how irresponsible” i always tell myself. “get serious.” this isn’t the first time this has happened. the thought has occurred to me a few times. previous visits to the southwest, the caribbean, jersey shore, basically any time i’ve gone somewhere new or exciting. on the plane i started thinking about my constant lack of desire to return “back to reality,” as they say. even in the past when i’ve stayed local for extended periods of time i become obsessed with some new and refreshing experience. i cant seem to figure out if it’s the character of certain places which makes me want to stay, or my inability to simply stay anywhere at all. i do know one thing: i find monotony horrifying.
so many questions. why does “reality” have to be so daunting? what is it about “getting away” makes new places so appealing? it could be the adventure, the thought of the unknown. i ask myself “am i lazy? do i just not feel like settling down because i’m afraid to?” i’m always thinking about “vacation.” i’m a hard worker and responsibility never disappears no matter what you’re doing with your life. so therefore, what is a vacation really? is it an escape from the everyday, or your brain finally stretching its legs, your removal from monotony allowing you to feel alive again? so many questions. where does this all start.
the first time i tried to run away i was 18 years old. that sounds somewhat ridiculous considering an 18 year old is, by law, no longer a minor and capable of making his or her own decisions. however, there were a few circumstances i was living under which made it difficult for an 18 year-old kid like me to just dip out. first and foremost, i was on summer vacation; it was the july before my sophomore year of college. i was working full time as a skilled laborer with my cousin under his dad; my uncle, the boss. we were building a second-floor addition on a family home a few towns over from my parents house. i almost felt that i couldn’t just walk away from a full-time job, especially when i was being employed by my own family. key word: almost. i would have left. there-in lies the second problem with running away.
i had no physical way of leaving. i didn’t have my drivers license. i could drive (poorly), but there was no way in hell i was risking skipping town without any form of legal identification. even if i did, i didn’t have a car. at the time i was not nearly as well versed on the southeast pennsylvania transit authority or new jersey transit system. if i knew then what i know now about getting around the northeast via public transit, chances are i would have left that night.
i was in the passenger seat of my best friends car. we were doing a few laps around the block, venting to each other about feeling trapped in our town. not that nobody ever left, but as to how we were going to do so ourselves. the conversation was the climax of building frustrations i’m assuming plague most ambitious 18 year-olds. i had just gotten back from my first year of college. i hadn’t gone far from home, but far enough to know there was a big ass world out there. everything back home seemed “so monotonous,” and we didn’t think our jobs were “engaging enough.” “there has to be more to life” was probably said three-hundred times. but it was all true. we were truly feeling frustrated.
we approached the corner in his sleek white mustang (he dubbed that car ‘roxanne’. white with red interior. she really was a bad-ass car. roxanne, you are missed). two turns away from my parents house i said something along the lines of “just go straight. don’t make the turn on my street. if you just go street past Hastings were less then seven turns from the highway. we could make it to coast in two hours. just figure it out from there.” that’s all i wanted to do. run and figure it out along the way.
we didn’t end up going for the coast that night. i couldn’t convince my buddy to just keep driving. if i had lived two or three blocks farther down the road i think i would have gotten him to. the next morning at work i looked at my cousin when we got to the job site as i held up my thumb and index finger. “dude, i was this close to leaving last night.” i remember he didn’t say anything at all, he just looked down. i could tell he was mad. mad that i would have left him, but only because he wouldn’t have been with me. i think it was at this point i realized that for the rest of my life i was going to have a very hard time sitting still.
the second time i tried to run away was when i moved to south jersey for the summer with another hometown friend. it didn’t take much convincing. i knew i needed a job, not an internship. i needed money, not college credit. i also knew i didn’t want to spend another summer in suburbia. i needed something new. a little adventure. when his parents offered to put us up in a bay house, paying rent and looking over the property for them, i was sold. we spent most days working at a beach-side bar, and every other moment drinking in the sun, smoking under the moon. i learned a lot about myself that summer. not sure if i could describe or list exactly what i learned, but i knew i was different. i was starting to begin to understand myself. it was the beginning of an endless soul-searching, self-identification process. i figured out people are always changing and there’s nothing wrong with it either. change isn’t bad as long as its progressive.
the next three years after that first summer away consisted of school during the term, summers between suburbia and the jersey coast, and finally moving to new york city. i guess i haven’t really “lived” in my hometown since i left for college when i was 17. since then, i’ve always felt the need to stay on the move, wishing i was somewhere else. here we are, right back to restlessness.
so what now? i guess i’m trying to come to terms with this restlessness. i know i want to experience everything the world has to offer. in this way i’m chasing a better understanding of myself in order to better understand whatever else is going on in the world. i’m constantly itching for adventure. new experiences are the only way we can truly learn about ourselves, what we want, where we want to be, and of what kind of stuff our souls are constructed. i’m not satisfied, i may never be. guess it’s time to start planning another getaway.