I have this postcard on my bathroom wall and I made the copy in 1984 when I worked for the Iowa Department of Human Services. The original was in the cubicle office of Mary Osborne, a woman I befriended, and she was destined to leave her alcoholic husband and marry another man who hid his whiskey bottle behind the paper towel stand until she found it. The phrase below the picture said, she was often gripped with the desire to be elsewhere. I liked the black and white print and I liked the saddle shoes and I liked the words gripped and desire in the same sentence. Perhaps the card was meant to communicate how Mary and I felt about the many hours we spent in our cubicles although we did have some pretty good times. Once after hours we giggled and emptied pepper packets into the coffee can of a woman we could not tolerate who always pushed herself to the front of the crowd when someone had bad news taking delight in the misery.
As a young woman I sometimes felt overused and saw my life stretching in front of me with very little breakage like the Iowa prairie on which I resided. This terrified me and I jumped too soon taking large and dangerous steps that propelled me down an unknown path. My escape over the wall left me a woman alone with all the wrong friends and the lives of my children up for grabs. "Cavalier," the divorce judge had called me. I didn't like that fellow. He and his questions and his five minutes of decision-making left me callous and bristling against the unfairness of the system. I had to look that word up in the dictionary.
I don't think about escape anymore. I had underestimated the depth of a soul and behind the wild fire that propelled my leaving was a longing for sameness. A place where children and parents never grow old. Somewhere near a lake and a beach and tree-covered hills from my childhood memories. Days spent in the warm water, popcorn stories around the campfire and nights sleeping under the patchwork quilts stitched by great-grandmothers. You can't have that, silly girl, it's long gone. But, there is Dad and my grandchildren, the promise of a new puppy in the warmer months and a garden to be planted. I am a lucky woman.