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Getting Away

Waiting for an early-morning espresso under the canopy of my local drive-thru, I was tempted to book a flight to someplace sunny. The city was being pelted by rain and wind. Even Kimberly, who was usually a reliable source of optimism, was turning a bit cynical. She was wrapped in a scarf with her knit cap pulled over her eyebrows.
“Earth Day was a big success,” she said, ringing up my order. “I saw the lights get turned out in Australia.”
“New York too,” I said, wanting to cheer her up.
“Yep, that made the news.” She squeezed an extra shot on the house and handed my steaming cup through the window. “Not sure this is going to clear up real soon.” She nodded overhead.
“I’ve been thinking about a spring trip somewhere,” I said, careful not to scorch myself. Or to commit myself, for that matter. “You know, some place sunny. I’m not sure really.”
“Yeah, I’d go for that. But my boss says I got to show up to get paid. Imagine that.” She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I could go for sunny. Or some snow.” She leaned out and seemed to enjoy the rain that blew in from the road. “They say this storm has dumped a ton in the mountains. It’s been dry and crappy all winter. Now’s the time to go.”
“Yeah, now’s the time.” I waited as she unboxed a scone from her daily shipment.
My Droid sat blinking on the seat. On its screen, a couple of fare alerts pinged. There was a flight to Cabo that dropped $50 and another to Big Sky. I’d been collecting my frequent flyer miles like stamps and now had enough to get to Las Vegas. But, I really wanted overseas, not something too close or too comfortable.
It was not recreation that I longed for. The skies would clear and the sun would pop out for a week’s worth of sun. But I craved traveling to new, undiscovered places, where just finding a place to sleep would be enough to open your eyes. Somehow the daily grind just got me deeper into my own loops. I’d sampled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, on my Nook, by Charles Duhigg. But I hadn’t gotten very far. My mind wandered off.
I longed for just the opposite: a break in my routines. I’d plotted where I went each day, the times of each break away from my desktop, how long I spent, what I did. You could set your clock by where I was. In fact, I dreamed I left troughs in the sidewalk where I walked each day. I could see the trenches scraped into pavement. I parked in the same stalls, avoided the same panhandlers, ordered the same drinks with the same card at the same time from the same baristas. Talk about being robotic.
Had I been infected by a habit virus? You know, the kind that gets into your bloodstream and makes you do the same things day in and day out. Like that outbreak in the 50’s.
My phone buzzed with a couple of tweets, pictures of friends balancing straws on their iPads. Eating noodles blind-folded. Even our diversions had become predictable. Emails arrived with overdraft warnings, and I was tempted to renege on the scone.
“I hope you like cranberry,” Kimberly said as she handed a baggie out the window. “That’s all that’s left. They sent three boxes of cranberry scones, can you believe these guys?”
“Very different,” I said, peeking at the pimply texture. My phone was now finding spots in Serbia that were coming down in price; Tangiers had good bus fares; and paragliding in Puerto Vallarta was included at many packages. The car behind me flicked its lights and I waved to Kimberly as I eased back into my groove.
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