Out Of My Skin
8, 2008
By Roger Emile Stouff

I am SO about to jump clean out of my skin.

All Iíll leave behind is a pile of flesh and clothing, and Iíll be running around with all my musculature showing and getting arrested for extreme indecent exposure.

Be that as it mayÖ

I am SO about to jump clean out of my skin!

October, it is, of course. Iím suffering from RLS. Restless leg syndrome. I am serious about that, I do have it, but it only really manifests itself at bedtime. If you scoff at stories of such maladies, rethink your levity. Itís very real and aggravating.

But itís worse this time of year. My RLS turns into RnLS, or "Running Leg Syndrome" because itís all I can do not to just leap out of my chair, bust open the front door and head for the nearest treeline. Sometimes I catch my legs trying to run while Iím sitting working and I have to harness them and rein them in before I end up in the street, chair and all, broadsided by a truck.

Though he never would have said so, Iím certain my dad thought I was a wimp, by the way heíd look at me when I came home complaining about being dog-tired after work. Iím sure he was thinking I was a complete wuss, sitting behind a desk typing all day, besides an occasional trip to take a picture of a car wreck or a ribbon cutting, and coming home tired. Tired, of all things! For a man who pitched 50-pound bags of carbon black onto railroad cars for many years, I can see how it was incomprehensible to him. I couldnít make him understand how the artificial lights Ė in wavelengths found no where else in the universe Ė sap your metabolic energy, your back turns to mush from sitting so long and your brain turns to lime Jell-O.

What a decrepit existence. When the Europeans first got here, some admired the free life of the Indian, others were jealous, many called it sinful. The last two groups won and today I sit behind a desk in concrete rooms and boarded windows. The first group became mountain men, fishing guides, hunters, Alaska residents and sailors.

Guess Iíve got that old traveliní bone

ĎCause this feeliní wonít leave me alone.

But I wonít, wonít be losiní my way, no, no

Long as I can see the lightÖ (CCR)

When I jump out of my skin, do you reckon Iíll weigh less on the scale? Thatíd be nice, though the predicaments of winter clothing might be challenging. What, after all, would you do without your eyebrows and eyelids and eye lashes? The questions are endless.

My ancestors would laugh at me, squirming like a three-year-old here in my high-backed office chair, pounding away on this plastic keyboard and longing for evergreens and oaks. I wouldnít blame them. Iíd laugh at me too, if I wasnít so stinking miserable.

But ya gotta laugh to keep from cryiní I guess. What a culture weíve created. Twenty years ago, I swore this would never be me. Rushing down the cattle-shoot, running the rat-raceÖyou know all the cliches. Somewhere along the line I became "responsible" against my wishes and my better judgment, heck, my whole nature. Whereas I used to tout, "Iíd rather be busted flat in a rest home with a head full of memories than wealthy and dead of boredom by 55," somehow I ended up heading for the short end of the stick anyway. Somewhere along the line I started worrying. Would there be social security when I get that age? If so, could I live off it? If not, could I catch enough fish to feed myself. Thatís when I really got worried!

Oh, my employers are good to me, and they probably deserve more gratitude and a better attitude from me. Theyíre victims of the amok culture we developed, too, you see. They expect me to be here every day, Monday through Friday, and sometimes weekends when Iím on call duty. I keep trying to show them that in their hearts they know this ainít natural, is probably sinful, and might be downright obscene, but they havenít acknowledged their disorders as yet. I remain hopeful.

Off the wind on this heading lie the Marquesas

We got eighty feet of the waterline

Nicely making way Ė(Crosby, Stills & Nash)

Well, there you go. In October, why not just throw it all to the wind, raise a sail and catch a following sea? After all, you can live cheap. The bill collectors canít find you, and neither can those annoying people we all have in our lives. And what an adventure! From port of call to port of call, oh, Jimmy Buffett would be my iconic idol. So whatís keeping you, man? Whatís the hold-up, dude?

Well, you know. Cowardice, mostly. Obligation and responsibility, secondary. Mostly the cowardice. Jeesh, Iím starting to sound like some messed-up character from a Woody Allen movie, ainít I? Next thing you know Iíll be seeking a therapist.

Can you see the look on her face? Sheís there in her conservative hairstyle, fashionable narrow eyeglasses, legs crossed discreetly, wearing sensible shoes, taking notes on my various hangups, and all of a sudden WHOOOOSH! I jump clean out of my skin, leaving behind that largest organ in the human body and a damp trail to the window all thatís left to my exit, stage right. Curtain call. Finis. Iíd bet the therapist would need therapy after that, and heck, ainít that somehow satisfying in itself?

Whatís my point?

I aintí got a clue.

Think about how many times I have fallenĖ

Spirits are using me

Larger voices callingÖ (CS&N)

Well, heck. Donít pay me any attention. Iím just about to jump out of my skin, is all. Nothing to worry about. Itíll pass. It always does. Mid, late November itíll be done and Iíll be grousing about the winter and itíll be that way until spring. Then, look out! The whole thing starts over again and Iíll be rattling the bars of my cage and moaning about escape.

JustÖright nowÖoh, but for a sail flapping over my head and the coast growing ever more far and away at my back!

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheelís kick and the windís song and the white sailís shaking,

And a grey mist on the seaís face, and a grey dawn breakingÖ (John Masefield, "Sea Fever")