E S S A Y I’m discombobulated, unmoored, squirrelly. It’s 1 a.m., and in the last hour I’ve turned over in my soft, high thread-count, sheets at least 20 times (that’s 5 times per front, back, left and right) — like a pig roasting on a spit — convinced with every pivot that I’ll be asleep before I can roll again.
So I get out of bed.
I’m days away from flying to Paris where for two months I’ll be a jobless pensioner, a long-married solo sojourner and a sexagenarian school-girl. After leaving a lengthy legal career, I’m taking classes to help turn me in a different direction.
My life abroad will be like starring in a theatre production with endless possibilities for ad libbing, after decades acting the part of a caged character with minimal choices. I’m willingly plunging into a world I associate with another kind of person — one who’s budding, blithe and bold.
Even in my crime-free community I feel unsafe, sure that something is hovering just out of sight, waiting to derail my overdue break from predictability. An elusive, ethereal kidnapper rides the tail of my free spirit. I find myself in another stage of old still fighting the battles of my youth — the war between Game-and-Adventurous-Renée and Stay-the-Course-Rénee.
I have daring dreams where I open my mouth and calmly voice desires and displeasures using the strong sound sentences that silently scroll through my mind. And boy what a Pandora’s Box that could be. Will landing on foreign soil empower me to let it rip or will years of constraint keep me sitting on the lid, afraid to let too much light in and too much fire out?
Well, it’s time to get some answers. So all you friends who keep telling me to “be careful over there”… in that place where boxes might be opened and caged birds set free — get out of my way. My feet have already left the ground.
OK, I think that’s man enough. I can go back to bed now.
Renée Ozburn lives in Williamston, Minnesota so she may find Paris just a tad different.