Rock Island – January 31, 2013
A spaceship needs to move 25,000 miles per hour to escapee Earth’s gravity. That’s a lot of rocket fuel. Leaving home requires none, but you have to leave.
I didn’t sleep last night. Not like I tossed and turned or kept waking up, I didn’t sleep at all. Not a minute. Packing, checking gear, last-minute emails, researching the route, laundry, backing up photos, charging batteries, details, details, details. The whole time I wondered how I could have been in Tallahassee for a week and left so much for the last night. I’ll get six hours I thought, just one more thing. Then it was five. Then three. Then the sun came up and I had to go.
I fell asleep mid-sentence on the thirty minute drive to the water. It took me an hour and a half to pack the boat. My mom watched, patiently from a distance, as I tried to squeeze and force gear into hatches and felt all gravity’s pull to stay another day, to leave on a fresh night’s sleep, to fall back to Earth.
A late night. One more thing to check. Another piece of equipment to fix. Manufactured excuses. There is always a reason to stay.
I gave my mom one last hug. The long kind. The kind that needs to last for a while. Then I drifted down the Aucilla River and into the ocean.
I don’t know what happened next. It’s blurred fragments of memory. Chunks of consciousness split by closed eyes, half-dreams, and mirages. I fought it as hard as I could, willing my eyes open, singing, paddling hard, staring at the sun, anything to stay awake, to not slip over, to not slump to one side and into the water.
Paddling, paddling, drifting asleep, watching a distant island that never seemed close enough until I reached its shore and collapsed on solid ground.
My eyes shut and refused to open. The world slipped away. My body empty and used up.
But I’d escaped.