My old neighbor B. is headed for an island off the Washington coast. My architect friend E. is packing a sketchpad and heading for Utah. My new neighbors J. and S. will snap undersea pictures off Cancun. Even my teenage son has the bug: He has given me a choice of Shanghai or Marrakesh. Don’t ask.
Alas, I have no plans for a summer getaway. I live in Las Vegas, after all, the place where people come to get away from other places. They arrive in their flip-flops and thongs (which used to mean the same thing) and try to lounge four days poolside without the aid of a paramedic. As they say, it’s a dry heat. Like a creosote bush or a desert tortoise, I am a creature of dry heat. Take it away from me, and I am cold and wet.
I explain this to people, but still they ask: Where will you be going on your summer getaway? They ask as if they are genuinely concerned about me. And they should be! This got me thinking about what I need to get away from this summer, and where I should get away from it. The West Coast, I decided, is too expensive, the East Coast too snooty and the South too Confederate. As for the Midwest, bless the corn and the kindhearted people, but that humidity says more “get away” than “getaway.”
The real problem is that, no matter where I go, I’m always there. So what I’ve planned this year is a getaway from me. There is no reason, really, to take me on my getaway. When I am without me, I haven’t a care in the world. When I am not me, I can stroll upon the not-path, putting one not-foot in front of the other without worrying about where I am not going.
There are many other compelling reasons for me to spend some quality time without me:
I travel heavy. They say one should pack light for one’s adventures, take only the necessities, cast out the ballast. Great! Let me try! Shorts, socks, boxers, brushed-cotton T’s, a book by Haruki Marukami, a set of stretchy blue exercise bands, a small notebook with a red pen, an electric toothbrush, a neglected copy of The Atlantic, a baseball mitt, a manila folder full of work papers, a laptop, an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop charger, an iPhone charger, an iPad charger, a Kindle and a Kindle charger, because that’s where the Bradbury lives—oh, the case is full! I can either pay the excess baggage fee or just leave me at home.
I am an insomniac. It takes me forever to wind down at night: I think about all the people who did not call me and all the people I did not call. People only have time to call people when it is far too late to call anyone. Anyway, to ease my mind I watch old Jimmy Stewart pictures on Turner Classic, and those movies are really good. Seriously, have you seen Harvey? I stay up until they are done at 2 a.m., then I wake up at 4 a.m. to write emails to the people I did not call the day before, promising that I will call them and inviting them to call me. I will live with this anxiety all day. Who needs it?
My dog is happy. My dog has black and white fur and sparkly brown eyes and a killer smile. She is not me, and she is filled with joy. You should see her roll on the grass where some dead thing has left its scent. It is inspiring to look at her and think about what it would be like if I, too, were not me.
I remember the day before yesterday. If I take me with me on a summer getaway, the memory comes, too. The day before yesterday will follow me to Hawaii, to Ixtapa, to a snowy cabin high in the Andes. It was a rough day, and it was all my fault.
I suppose there’s no getting away from that.
Greg Blake Miller is the author of the forthcoming book Decemberlands. For information, visit OlympianCreative.com.