A few days ago. It had been one of those days. Those weeks. Those months.
And I snapped. I needed out. My husband came home from work and I was clawing at the door, saying I was sorry but I needed to step out for a few hours and I loved him and I’d back after the kids were in bed.
I went to the library. I wasn’t there to pay fines or ask about how to get my books in the system. I didn’t have little ones melting down because it was past nap time. I was there simply for me, simply to be in a library, and it was heaven. I’d forgotten what it was like to run my fingers down the spines of books that I don’t need to read or review or blurb.
I found one that interested me. I didn’t know the author. I clutched it to my breast. Other books, written by strangers. It didn’t have anything to do with me. It was crafted by Someone Else.
Suddenly the spacious library constricted like my home constricts. The walls were too close, the floor seemed to be jerking up, pressing aggressively against my feet. There wasn’t enough air, everybody inside was stealing my air, and I checked out my books and fled outside, where there was enough oxygen to go around.
I climbed the fence to the park.
I found someplace soft and green and relatively free of trash. This is Vegas, after all.
I sat down and read.
I read. For an hour.
I didn’t check my messages. I didn’t go online. I didn’t deal with work. I didn’t get people drinks of water or Goldfish crackers or play board games. I just read until it became too dark to read anymore, and I was tempting fate by staying out alone in a dark park like a horror movie victim.
I walked back to the car, checked the time. Looked at my book.
I bought a Coke Zero at a drive-through window and pulled over in the parking lot to read some more. The car light kept flipping itself off. I kept turning it on. Then, sighing, I decided it was time to go home.
I returned to a messy house and deadlines and fears about Williams Syndrome and everything else I had left. The book I had chosen really wasn’t all that good. But I had escaped, and for three hours I felt like my old self again. I remembered walking to the library with my brother as a child, and reading the books while stumbling home. It was a piece of childhood that had been returned. It was a moment of peace.
Rereading this post, I grimace. Do you see how many times I’ve used the word “I”? Not “we” or “us”. I did this. Me. Myself. Mercedes.
Maybe I need to do it more often. I tend to run with a pack. Several packs. So many packs. Lately I’ve noticed the packs are turning on each other, cannibalizing their brothers. There’s so much meanness. So much negativity. So many people eager to deride and put down.
I can’t do it. My heart is far too close to the surface, all of the time. Perhaps it’s okay to hide. Curl up on the floor with only my closest around me, to put a blanket over me when I can’t move. Or hide by myself. There shouldn’t be a sense of weakness about taking time for myself, but that’s how I feel.
Sorry, family. Sorry, coworkers and friends. I’m letting you down for a bit. I’m hiding. I ran away.