by Nic Olson
I have begun to pack my getaway bag. Thus far, the three items it carries are a flashlight, several feet of chain, some boot laces. The flashlight was a workplace perk. The chain was purchased in Kalaymyo, Myanmar, in preparation for a long train ride from Kolkata to Bangalore. The poorly manufactured chain of an industry-weak nation ended up being breakable by hand, however, so a thicker grade was found in Kolkata. The bootlaces were free from Red Wing Shoes. They mailed them to my home. These three objects rest in the top pouch of my 90 litre backpack which is perched atop the wooden shelf/fouton frame in my large basement bedroom. The backpack droops and sags, sad with lack of use. Over a year of relaxation—straps loosened, zippers unzipped.
I still have plans for my bag before it is forgotten. Before it is handed over to the next line of restless, pissed off youth.
Two more friends recently emigrated from the prairies to the promised land of the west. The night they left I sat at my desk and looked over at my bag. The getaway feels good. Christ, I miss it. But, oh, I have only known it as a coward. Instead of dealing with problems, leaving town has seemed preferable. I am in a several year attempt to never do that again. To slowly build my relational maturity and experience levels to the point where fleeing isn’t cowardly, but rather wise, thoughtful, with no loose ends.
I have purposefully attempted to live the past several years so that I could leave with twenty-four hours notice. I still do this with no current plans to leave. It is a freeing feeling, I tell myself, to own less. Nothing in my bedroom, save a crokinole board and borrowed books, is worth worrying about. But the longer you stay somewhere, the harder it is to get-up and go. The Regina side-road rut is legendary. I am consciously building the knowledge of travel necessities, and as the unknown time becomes closer, I will gradually fill the bag with these valuable, life-necessary provisions. When the bag is packed, instead of being weighed down and over-comfortable in the city, I will be prepared and calmly eager.
I bought a rain jacket months ago, prematurely expecting to move to a city with heavy rain, but instead will be invaluable in a well-packed bag. I purchased boots in the fall, already looking to the summer when they would guide me along the shoulders of asphalt highways. I plan to attain a good-quality utility knife. My hatchet will find its way home. A blank notebook will have pages anticipating the sloppy script from a dull, stolen pencil. I will have discovered a back-up hat for when my current staple disintegrates. My bag will be packed. I will be fully prepared. I will have tied-up loose ends.
My getaway bag will slowly fill into a well-equipped, well-planned, travel bag, one that preparedly leaves, but runs from nothing.