Often the only thing that gets me up in the morning is the thought that today might be the day I finally run away. Most people’s “happy place” involves carefree time and a hot, sandy beach; mine involves the Witness Protection Program.
Every day, as I do my work, I inevitably find myself staring longingly out the window, fantasizing about starting over. I dream about moving somewhere far away, where no one but my husband knows who I am or where I came from. Where no one knows my struggles with anxiety, that my parents divorced, that my mother died or that I once accidentally locked myself in the bathroom at a sleepover party. And everyone who has called or emailed me, I have called and emailed back.
I ache for a clean slate.
I itch to begin anew in a foreign land where I don’t know who anyone is or where they came from. A place where no one can invite me to a party or ask me to babysit. Somewhere without those few people in my life who I just can’t seem to shake, who are leaches on my spirit, forever nipping at my heels. I could make like Kaiser Souzai and just disappear. Poof. I could be the me that I always wanted to be but have been frightened to embrace because of convention or fear of hurting people’s feelings or whatever other excuse I come up with.
My alarm clock is always set to a French radio station so that when it goes off in the morning I can keep my eyes shut and pretend I’m waking up in Paris. I imagine my Parisienne name is something really grande-with three syllables at least-and conjure up a warm pain au chocolate waiting for me on a small table, beside a computer whose keys are all functioning. I picture myself sitting on a balcony, overlooking an unfamilar scene, as I finish writing my book. Actually it would virtually write itself there because none of my subconscience naysayers would be looking over my shoulder, whispering in my ear that it’s never going to happen for me. That I can’t do it. And even if they did come along, even if they mapquested and somehow found their way to me, it wouldn’t matter anyway because they can’t speak French.
My husband teases me about my francophone wake-up call. He says it’s weird. I prefer charming. Begging him to pack a bag with me, my husband reminds me of Confucius’ words: “But everywhere you go, there you are,” he says.
This is true. In my reverie I would still be anxious, my mother would still be gone, and I would still fret over my writing. Except I would be in Paris! Duh.
But other than the ghosts of Balzac, Victor Hugo and my poor husband who I forced into transfering offices, who else would be there? Who else would we talk to? Who else would we laugh with?
Seeing two of my nieces this weekend I was reminded of how much I love watching them grow up (even if they’re getting too old for me to threaten kissing their faces off in public). I don’t get to see my brothers and their families as much as I would like even now, but I still get to see them. If I moved away, I would miss all of that. I would miss lunches with my father, dinners with my husband’s family, talking with my sisters-in-law.
I would miss the comforting voice of my friend Sarit as we find a way to laugh at our troubles. I would miss the encouraging words of my friend Susan, whom I write with every day, and who never ceases to inspire me. I would miss meeting up with my friends Melissa, Carrie and Lisa, and getting to see them be mothers. I would miss running into Melanie and her adorable twins on the street. I would miss telling my friend Ally that I’m totally going to visit her in Ottawa, even though I never do. I would miss celebrating friends’ weddings and graduations. I would miss getting coffee with my aunt, coordinating coffee with my friend Maya, or walking the dog with my friend Reena. I would miss getting to see Joel and Ayelet on a daily basis across the street and marveling at their little one’s latest trick. (She’s talking now!) I would miss my chain smoking neighbour who calls me Love and the guy at the convenient store who never wants to take my money. I would miss the homeless man who lights up when he sees my dog and asks if he can give Diego a cookie that he doesn’t have.
Why would I leave such caring people who never give up on me? Why would I increase the distance between us? I need to find a way to reinvent myself while everything around me stays the same. I need to figure out how to change while living in the same circumstances. Or, I need to figure out just how many people can join someone in the Witness Protection Plan simultaneously.