In a given week, how often do you drive away from home, remember you left something on the stove or forgot your gym bag or your shopping list or the gift you’re carrying to a party, and you turn back. Your neighbors see you rush out like a hyena and return crawling like a mouse, head tucked to the ground.
You run back for hand sanitizer or tissues or dental floss -- what if, what if, what if. You grab a hat and gloves should the car breakdown, a snack should you find yourself starving, water if you don’t get your eight glasses in.
Or an important phone number or even a phone -- oh my God the phone!
You’re determined to make a quick exit, start the day bursting forth, not apologize for being late again, not feel terrible about yourself. You scream, “I’ve got to get out of the house!”
And yet . . .
What if you never come back? What will the family think when face-to-face with your expired yogurt, wilting plants, desk askew? Will they think a real person actually lived there? Humiliating. You clean a little.
I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming . . .
Or in those last few minutes when you twist an ankle, brush your teeth with Comet, break a glass -- do you fret the skirt you’re wearing is not quite right, or those tights will pinch or sag, or you’re out of aspirin should something bleed or swell far from CVS?
In which case you’re lost which means you need Google maps but what if the phone is dead and where is that power cord?
I’m coming, in a second, I’m coming . . .
In an attempt to get out of the house, I take precautions. I fill my car with blankets should the temperature drop, a bathing suit should a lake come in view, a ballgown because you never know. I manage the possibilities.
Yet what if someone else is driving?
I’m coming, I swear, I’m coming . . .
Still I wonder . . . won’t my dress fit better if I take out the trash?
Not wanting to feel terrible about myself, I have an idea: Start earlier. And a rationale: The time I waste in last-minute rummaging and racing, driving away, coming back, is the same block of time I could use on the front end to exit gracefully, strut out the door like a peacock, and stay out. What a novel idea.
Did you say start a novel?
Two thousand years ago people apparently were the same way when they tried to get up and going. I know this because the Roman poet Virgil said, “The hour is ripe and yonder lies the way.”
In other words, get out now.
Virgil must have been trying to convince someone to board the chariot, jump on the horse, grab the lance or the walking stick and forget about plucking the grapes from the vine.
Too bad. I bet when it came to taking a long, hot journey -- especially in dusty ancient Rome -- those grapes would have tasted pretty darn good.
April, 19, 2018