Sometimes I am on my own escaping my current life and indulging the exquisite loneliness of solitary travel. Other times I have my son with me and we are on the run together – Bonnie and Clyde meets Bananas in Pyjamas.
There are so many ways to run away from ourselves: to wrestle with all that stuff between responsibility and romance, commitment and excitement.
Sometimes I wish I could just disappear. Not forever. It’s not some kind of a death wish but more like an urge to put the pedal to the metal of the great life force.
I was at the theatre recently, and during the interval I hid in the loo.
There I was behind the locked toilet door waiting for the audience’s usual chitchat and glass clinking to stop so I could go back in for the second half.
I’ve worked in the theatre for over twenty years, in one way or another, and have always felt at home in it, more or less. But that night I needed to hide from my so-called family. That night morphing into someone else – like how that character Mystique does it in X-Men – seemed like a good career move.
When a friend phoned me, breathless and excited, from her car one night, I knew I wasn’t alone in my once-in-a-while-need-to-flee.
‘I’ve just left home. I couldn’t stand my family any more so I just picked up my bag and left.’
‘Where are you going?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know! Anywhere that’s not home. I’m just gunna drive until I do know.’
‘Okay. I said. And, so, the kids, are?’
‘Yes, yes’ she snapped. ‘I didn’t leave them in the house on their own. I haven’t gone nuts. I’m just sick of my life and want to pretend to live someone else’s for a while. You know what I mean?’
Sure I did. I know what it feels like to want to start again, to be given a second go at making life righter or better; forks in the road, sliding doors and all that. I am not one of those je ne regrette rien people; je regrette heaps.
‘You want me to meet you somewhere?’ I asked her.
‘DO YOU WANT ME TO MEET YOU SOMEWHERE?’ Australian Crawl in the background. On her car stereo. ‘The Boys Light Up’.
‘No. Yeah. Nah. I’m fine. I’m really, really, REALLY FINE!’
My friend’s life looked pretty good to me. But that night she wanted out. That night she was in her own road movie, on the run and with the music up extra loud for company.
I heard this story once about a train disaster in the UK and how after the massive clean up, authorities discovered there were six people (I think it was six) still missing.
All the other passengers’ bodies had been identified and it was only later they discovered that those six, having survived the crash, all decided to use the catastrophe as an opportunity to ‘disappear’. Some of them were found living assumed identities and others figured their old lives weren’t so bad after all and eventually returned home.