hobart logo
Some Notes on Escape  photo


  • When I was about five, I prayed to God as I lay in bed. I prayed for the speed of a cheetah, just like the character I had seen in a cartoon on TV. He could run away from anything.
    • I tried for several nights, then gave up.
  • When I was nine, I asked our family doctor what Heaven is like.
  • Age ten was suicide attempt #1.
  • Age eleven was my older brother telling me about Hell. Our pastor had told him that it’s all of the absolute worst things you can imagine, all at once, all the time, multiplied by ten thousand.
    • I tried to imagine Hell.
  • Age sixteen was me getting really drunk for the first time. I felt bulletproof.
  • Age seventeen was me scribbling on paper in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, asking questions, asking what death is like and what comes after, crying, asking what it means to live a good life, asking what’s the point, asking why not just quit.
    • I folded all the scribbled-on pages and threw them away carefully, slid them down the back of the trashcan to the bottom so no one would ever find them.
  • When I was eighteen, I learned about escape velocity. It’s vescape = (2GM/r), where “G” is the gravitational constant, “M” is the mass of a body, and “r” is its radius.
    • You only have to go 11 kilometers per second to get off our planet.
    • That’s only 7 miles per second.
      • That’s all it takes—leave Earth and never have to come back.
      • Just strap on some wings and start running.
  • When I was nineteen, I stopped wondering about Heaven and Hell.
  • Age nineteen was also suicide attempt #2.
  • Age twenty-one was me earning a DUI. The officer followed protocol, let me stumble through field sobriety, fail a breathalyzer.
    • After the DUI, I started drinking more by myself at home.
      • You don’t have to leave to travel.
  • When I was twenty-four, my friend and I were at a bar. “You can crash on my couch if you want,” she said. “I’ll drive you back to your car in the morning.”

“Good,” I said, “because I’m going to drink until the lights go out.”

  • Age twenty-five was “any port in a storm” (that’s what they say, right?), so I took a fistful of muscle relaxers—not to kill myself, see, just to inch my way back from reality.
    • Taking a fistful of muscle relaxers = brain-body connection error.
    • Taking a fistful of muscle relaxers = economical travel.
  • Age twenty-five was also getting kicked out of a blues bar in St. Louis.
    • I had passed out while still standing up in the men’s room urinal stall.
  • Age twenty-five was also suicide attempts #3 and #4.
  • Age twenty-six was me planning a solo road trip around the U.S., needing to get lost and found.
    • No money, no time, no trip.
  • Twenty-six was also me in therapy (again) and in AA (for the first time) so that I could get away from my life and myself.
    • I.e., trying to escape from the things I did to try to escape from my life and myself.
  • When I was twenty-seven, I had a dream: I had super-human strength, I was nearly invulnerable, and I could fly. But there was a faceless man with the same attributes and abilities chasing me through a darkened cityscape. I couldn’t fly well enough, fast or high enough. He eventually caught me, and I woke up.


image: Aaron Burch