About eighteen months ago, a really good friend of mine called me up one day to tell me that he and his wife were going to disappear. I laughed. What a crazy idea! But he was serious. They are an older couple, both retired, of sound mind (or so I believe), and while not wealthy, they were holding their own. He told me they had decided to sell their house, move to a southern state, and spend the rest of their lives making friends with strangers. They weren’t going to hide from their children or grandchildren, but they were going to hide from everyone else they had ever met in life. I was shocked and had a hundred questions and just as much concern. But they were committed to this adventure. I haven’t heard from them since. Neither has any of our friends in common.
About two weeks ago, another friend of mine called me to tell me he is going into hiding. Divorced and estranged from his children, and admittedly in a mid-life crisis, he feels he has nothing left to live for. But he’s not a quitter and he’s not suicidal, so he’s doing the best thing he can think of. He’s selling all of his possessions and is joining one of those service organizations, like the Peace Corps, and he’s going into hiding. He knows where he is going, but he’s not telling anyone. He said he’ll send me an email once he’s settled, but his plans right now are that no one of his friends or family will know where he is. Kind of like a self-imposed witness protection program.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve fantasized about running away from my life, simply because they are too numerous. Usually I’ve enjoyed these fantasies while soaking in a hot bath (my cure all for nearly any ailment), only to be brought back to reality by a child storming into the room, bawling and screaming about how mean her sister/teacher/friend is. My train of thought disturbed, I quickly slipped back into the role of mother and got on with my life.
Certainly I’ve had my share of some pretty dark days. And I’ve managed to dig myself into some pretty deep holes. I’ve even enthroned myself on a pitty pot for weeks at a time. But I’ve always managed to come back to reality and get on with my life.
Do I want to run away and hide? Some days I do. Will I? Doubt it.
My oldest two daughters never ran away from home when they were growing up. Well, if they did, it was for one night to a friend’s house whose mother called to tell me my daughter was safe and sound. My third daughter threatened to run away all of the time when she was in high school, and one night in a fit of anger I called her bluff and told her to run away. Clearly she was old enough to manage just fine on her own. I told her she was welcome to leave, but she couldn’t take the car or her computer or her cell phone. Sure, she could take one suitcase of clothes. And I told her to let me know when she was packed and I would take her wherever she wanted to go. She didn’t leave. Not to be outdone, my youngest daughter did run away, while in middle school, on more than one occasion. But she always took her cell phone with her and usually answered when I called or would respond to a text message. So I knew she was safe. And eventually she would tire of life as a hobo and she’d return home. She’s eighteen now and I can legally ask her to leave my house. Funny how she doesn’t seem to have the desire to run away anymore.
What does it say about life, about society, about the times we live in, when sane adults choose to go into hiding? I’ve often wondered if one of the husband/wife team is terminally ill and this was a way to go quietly into the night. I’ve been wondering if my divorced friend is running from financial ruin. Surely these are logical reasons for behaving illogically.
I love going on a trip. I love the excitement of planning, then having the adventure and seeing new sights and eating strange foods. But sometimes the best part of being gone is coming home. I sleep best in my own bed. I relax most thoroughly in my own bath. I am most comfortable in my own kitchen. I guess the bottom line is, despite all my cares and woes, I must like my life very much. If not, then I must be the insane one for staying in it and not hiding from view.