Once a year I go crazy.
It usually starts around October, which is when the cooler winds of autumn blow in down in this neck of North Carolina. Leaves start to change, stress levels start rising at my retail job, but it isn’t either of those factors that triggers it: not the changing of seasons or the added pressure as we prepare to embark into the holidays.
Something just happens.
There’s a quote by author Lord Dunsany in one of his “Wonder Tales” where he writes “in the blood of man there is a tide, an old sea current that is somehow akin to the twilight; it brings him rumors of beauty from however far away, as driftwood is found at sea from islands not yet discovered. And this springtide or current that visits the blood of man comes from the fabulous quarter of his lineage, from the legendary, of old. It takes him out to the woodlands, out to the hills; he listens to ancient song.”
Around October—though it varies each year; I feel pangs of it sometimes in August, and other times it waits dormant until nearly December—that tide Dunsany talks about pulls out, receding into the vast ocean of Otherness, of I-Know-Not-What. And it tugs at me and it pulls at me, and I just feel the urge—no, the need—to go. To leave. To hop a plane or just get in the car and drive. To hike up a mountain or whoosh through the subway catacombs of some distant city. To lose myself and find myself and possibly truly be myself in a way that I can’t where I am right now.
Reality tugs back. It’s a regular tug-of-war. I have a job and a place, pets and family nearby and friends that would wonder where I’ve gone, and why so suddenly. If I hate my job, I’m tempted to quit it. If I like my job that makes it even harder. And then there’s money. Money for tickets, for hotels or hostels, for gas and food and things to do.
Reality can be very mean. But very persuasive.
It’s here again. I’m going crazy. My job is a nice well-paying job with a reliable schedule. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. I have a cheap but nice apartment with friends and family nearby. Already I’ve applied for three new jobs, have called in sick to work tomorrow (though I’m absolutely fine), and really had to talk myself down from clicking “yes” on those tickets to London on expedia.com.
What is it? What is this that happens to me?
“The woodlands…the hills,” the whole vast world is calling. And here I am. And here, it seems, I’ll stay.