When I was debating where to move after college, I instantly ruled out New York City. I’d gotten a car as my graduation gift and I didn’t love the idea of going someplace where I couldn’t have it – where I couldn’t have the freedom of getting in my car and running away for a weekend at the drop of a hat.
But in all the years I spent not living in New York, I never did that. I never just picked up and left for a day or an afternoon. It never occurred to me to try it.
I don’t know why, but this morning I felt like I had to get away. Being in my own skin was claustrophobic and I needed to dig my fingers in and pull it apart, to feel fresh air hit the hidden parts of me and sun-warm my soul. So I left.
I grabbed my keys and my bag and went someplace I’ve never been. But being there didn’t calm me down – going there did. Just getting out of this place made a difference. I got a chance to be quiet in the way that’s best for me: to be in a crowd of people and not speak to anyone and feel their energy around me. I got to see the first bare branches of the year and feel the way winter is sneaking up on the South. (It’s coming in with a whisper this year, like it can sneak right by us and pretend we never saw it, but I’m not fooled. I’ve seen the signs, I know it’s on its way.)
So often I feel as if I need to force myself to be happy ways that don’t feel quite right as if doing anything unnatural will actually help. Maybe it’s time to accept that often the easiest way to make me happy is to be on the road to somewhere with my music playing and letting my mind wander to wherever it needs to go. The only way I can write is by being places that make me question everything – how and why we do what we do. How to get from A to B. The more I question, the more I write. The more I write, the more I understand.
But I don’t question things here. I know how things work, I know what’s around, I know what each day is going to look like before it happens. So I need days like today – I need to remember that sunlight and autumn breezes exist in places that are not here and that I can go find them on my own and sit in the quiet of everybody else’s conversations and let go. I need to fill myself up with questions and play with them over and over, to see the tiny cracks in them where more questions live, and I need to find answers. Because I’m worried that if I don’t I’ll never write anything that scares me again.