It’s always been about escapisms. For me, for Orville Wright, for inmates, for those making trips to the porcelain throne for an hour with a newspaper, or for anyone vanishing for some quiet time in the closet with a bottle of Bordeaux, the help hotline phone number and a grenade in case the help hotline doesn’t help.
Since I’m probably North America’s foremost pursuer of enjoyment, and mismatched socks, escapes for me usually mean unleashing the shackles that bind me to housework and hopping in the car for a road trip or flying somewhere. Now if ever I am motivated to do that thing called cleaning, which I can promise you only nudges me about every other eclipse, it snatches my happiness and is usually the reason I plan most of my out-of-the-house activities. I could hire Molly Maid, but I have a rather fevered fondness for strangers being in my house who are fishing things out of my couch cushions. And I don’t want anyone but me ruining the glossy shine on my outdoor spigots. Wisdom is knowing that a lovely fragrance doesn’t come from mixing bleach and ammonia together. Escapism means not buying them in the first place. One reason not to hire a cleaning service? Well, a maid could sense a mess and take it upon herself to use her own escape strategy of calling in sick. I can’t get grunge liberated from the last kitchen catastrophe if she was chasing her dog and it will take at least a day for her legs to recover from it. Even state-of-the-art appliances don’t wash themselves after boil overs when a certain someone ditches a lit range to go watch a two-hour movie. Not to mention that nine times out of 10, someone turns the toaster setting that burns bread to a blackened smoky obliteration leaving dingy cabinets and with me relying on butter for breakfast. Next time that happens, I’ll be escaping to The House of Pancakes.
Now there were definitely days my children wanted to escape, from me. Especially after they found out I read their diary, that teen escape. I recall delving into hearts and hubris splashed on the pages hidden behind lock and key, mostly because their mother the temptress knew they weren’t going to the mall to peruse Talbots. So I pried open their secret tell alls as much as humanly possible to keep track of their dalliances. I didn’t get many merits for super sleuthing. In fact I found myself living the great escape of diaries when they started hiding them from me. But most of what this snoop dog did read was about how their lives were as suspenseful as Nancy Drew stories, much like mine at that age. I also read a chock full of nuttiness. Tidbits about flaming nail polish remover mixed with my great-grandmothers hand-pieced quilt. I looked high and low for that thing. I’m sure it flew the coop along with my cook book that had brownie mix splattered all over it. I had to keep mental reminders not to keep both matches and recipes lying around anymore.
Once I was trapped in my bedroom with Waverly bedding beauty and the bee. But not just one bee, a colony full. They had taken over the attic and made their way down the inner walls entering through the cable wire hole. I exercised my choice to scream, a tactic that may similarly serve me well if I’m ever called to be an extra in a massacre movie. The rest of the evening played out like a scene from Hitchcock’s "The Birds." There was no escaping them. Yet for them, there was also no escaping me. Because sting me once, shame on them. Sting me twice, shame on me for not opening the windows and keeping busy bees from breaking free. Sting me three times and I call Terminix, then escape, I mean beeline it to a hotel. Because men with extinguishers and power over pests just make bees angrier.
In a conversation with my dad, he revealed that while raising us he and mom would periodically take their much-needed getaways. He said weekend trips would extend into lengthier stays. Saturday and Sunday would turn into Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday would turn into Friday, Saturday, Sunday, into Monday. It’s a wonder he still had a job by the time he retired. But escape plans are crucial, especially when we can’t recover from some things. Not unless your house burned down right before you fled to your vacation spot and you come home to a winning lottery ticket, or "Extreme Makeover" rebuilding and feng shuiing your humble abode so there’s never the need to escape again.
If I want to be the next Dora the Explorer with a hankering for ancient architecture, there’s certainly no place like Rome. And take Madrid. I could handle a few sangrias right about now. I need to prove the logic behind a bull and matador, but it could pose a real problem if I’m wearing red. And nothing would be finer than cruisin’ an ocean liner to Skopelos. Yet if I drink enough Drambui, I can pretend I’m escaping to the Greek Isles by reenacting the entire film version of "Mamma Mia" right in my living room. That is until I see dust. Then it’s time again for plotting an actual escape, and maybe coordinate my cheerfulness with a place that is completely grime-free.