Brock has been busy lately. Very busy. So when he had to drive to the other side of town this morning to drop something off for work, he invited me along for the ride. That’s life – sometimes quality time comes from a romantic evening out and sometimes it comes in the form of an hour plus on the highways of Atlanta (which even have traffic before dawn on a Saturday morning).
It was a quiet ride for the most part. The comfortable companionate silence between two people with nothing to prove who simply enjoy each other’s company. But it was also a journey to the past for me, as we drove from where we live to the area where I spent ten years of my former life.
I make that drive once a month or so to visit with friends or to attend some event. But usually I am either the driver or the sights are hidden beneath a shawl of darkness. This morning was different. The soft morning light had just brightened the sky when we made the turn into my old stomping grounds and, as the passenger, I had endless opportunity to peer between the trees to see what had remained and what had changed.
We drove by the street that was home to my first Georgia apartment where we served breakfast to the family who came into town to celebrate our wedding. We passed by my old library, where I checked out endless decorating books with the intention of turning our house into a home. I saw the biscuit place that my husband loved and the Costco where we went together every Saturday. We pulled through the drive through at the Starbucks where I met dates and sought public solitude after my divorce. And I caught a glimpse of the Gold’s Gym that was my sanctuary where I rebuilt mind and body.
I first heard the term “a geographic” relating to a need to pull up roots and start over somewhere new when I read Stephen King’s Duma Key. At the time I read the book, tucked securely in my other life, I didn’t understand that drive.
A few years later I understood it too well.
Once the reality of the end of my current life had set in, I felt an overwhelming need to escape. To run. To get away from every reminder and every location.
I wanted a geographic.
If I was going to be forced to start over, I wanted it to be fresh. Not built upon the dunghill of my former life.
Necessity kept me local for that first year; my job and my support system were nearby and needed. But that whole year, I felt restless. I no longer belonged. I needed to move. I was planning on a move to the West Coast, as far away as I could get in the continental U.S. But then love happened, and I cut my planned move short by about 2100 miles.
But it was far enough. As our morning drive took us through the streets of my old life, it felt like another world, another lifetime. It was distant yet interesting. I was curious rather than anxious. It held no pain, only far off memories. And it certainly didn’t feel like home.
I am feeling the pull for another kind of geographic right now. This semester has been way too frantic. I’ve felt pulled and prodded, trying to balance too much for too long. I feel the need to get away. To run. Not to another life, but to the woods for some quiet and simplicity. Life pared down to its most basic. Where the morning fire is often the most pressing item on the to-do list.
Peace. Hopefully without frostbite.
Sometimes we need to get away. Maybe for a few days. Or maybe for a lifetime.
Sometimes a geographic can help cure what ails us.