How does this end?

If I wake from a dream, usually it centres around, or at least heavily features, sex.
If I wake from a dream about my Wife, and from time to time I occasionally still do, usually it centres around, or at least heavily features an argument, about sex.
Four days ago, I woke from a dream about my Wife and I arguing, but not about sex. Rather it was about one of the other significant disparities in the relationship – parenting. In the dream, I asserted my IRL feeling that our different parenting styles are irreparably incompatible.

The day after, as a family, we have a day out. At some point a mundane decision is needed. I offer my opinion. It is instantly discounted. I shut down all but essential communication and walk behind everyone else, extracting myself from family.

That evening, the spectre of parenting’s frustration manifests itself as a belligerent pre-teen. I dig deep, find some patience, and seem to successfully negotiate us through the dispute. Until it finally requires action in support of what has been agreed … when I am met with a defiant No!
I’ve had enough.
I collect my wallet and coat, and walk out of the house.

I have no direction to walk in.
No place to go.
I just walk.
Away.
The November night is pitch dark, but thankfully warm and dry.
All I can think about is getting away from them.
Where to?
I don’t know.
Just keep walking.
Away.
I’ve had enough.
I don’t know where I’m going to be tomorrow, but I don’t expect to have a home, or a family, or a job, or a meaningful way of supporting myself, or a circle of friends, or anything to show for the last 16yrs.

I am two miles from home and the town is now behind me.
I have a little money in the bank, and one place that I would at least be welcomed, even if it is somewhere I do not relish staying long. And it would take me 4 days to walk there … if I had turned left instead of right when I closed the door behind me.

I am four miles from home, surrounded by fields.
Just keep walking.
I could demand half of the house so I could afford to relocate. But I didn’t fund half the house in the first place – far from it – and that would mean evicting my family. I won’t do that.
I couldn’t afford to live in this town. Statistically it is an extremely expensive town in which to live, relative to its residents’ average income. Having sacrificed my career a decade ago, to be the primary parent, I would be lucky to find a job that paid minimum wage, and have no way to prove to a landlord I have months worth of income behind me. In a previous argument, when I threatened to leave, my Wife said She would support me financially until I could support myself, but I will not take that – that would tie us destructively together.

I am six miles from home and the street lights of the next town are ahead of me.
Just keep walking.
There are friends who I could visit. Doors I could knock on. Sofas I could ask to crash on, just for tonight. But despite the darkness, it is still relatively early, and no one is going to want their Sunday evening interrupted. So I just keep walking. Beyond this town there are more fields, then another which slowly bleeds into a sprawling city. There are woodlands in which I could sleep. Or there are even a couple of deserted farm buildings. I know well enough how to find shelter.
Or I could just keep walking. These boots are comfortable and I could go for days without blisters.
If necessary, it wouldn’t be hard to get arrested and spend a night in the cells. But that has potential long term implications I will do well without.
Keep walking.
When I get to the big smoke, there will be no shortage of doorways to sleep in, even if many are already occupied. Not a good solution for anyone, including me. But right now I’m walking in the wrong direction for anything better.
(With hindsight, it is interesting that It never occurs to me to check in to a cheap hotel.)

I reach the edge of town.
Should I just keep walking?
The station is only another mile away. I could get on a train, turn round and go back.
But why?
The same reason I won’t take Her money. Because If I am leaving, They need time to figure what They are going to do without me. What They are going to do about the school run, and groceries, and laundry and all the rest.
If I’m going to drop this bombshell on Them, it is my duty to shield them from the initial blast.
And I need to collect some clothes. And a bag. And assess which of my own personal assets are best liquidated. And maybe dig out my passport.

I stop walking on the railway bridge.
A fast train approaches, and I go through the inevitable thought process.
But there’s nothing to be gained from that. Not for anyone. It would be better that I tell a few necessary people I’m leaving, and disappear. It’s not hard to disappear … if you really want to … and no one is looking for you until you’re gone. And the reality is, unless you have a tight circle of friends and family, it would be weeks if not months before most people thought to question your absence. And most would carry on without idly pondering the answer until you had time to surpass Phileas Fogg’s achievements several times.

I walked onwards to the station and bought a ticket.
As I stood on the platform, a man walked into my field of vision. The weather was warm and dry, and whilst he was not alone in wearing a waterproof jacket at this time of year, there was no need for him to be wearing waterproof over-trousers. His hair was cropped short and he carried a large paper cup which, as he approached me he started to raise.
Me: Sorry mate …
We both know the routine, and he nods acceptance.
Me: … but I’ve just left my Wife.
I felt obliged to explain.
Him: Really?
Me: Yeah.
Him: How long ago?
Me: Two hours.
Him: Wow. You got somewhere to go?
Part of me was wary of the question. Such is the conditioning of society and the media.
Me: I don’t know yet.
Him: You got your wallet?
Again I felt a twinge of caution, but there seemed to be some empathy, and possibly even concern in his voice.
Me: Yeah. Sorry – I just need it as much as you do now.
Him: You’re where I was.
A brief and inconsequential conversation ensued before he walked on.
And it hit me just how portentous this moment was.

Arriving home … home? … I hung my coat up and walked to the kitchen, poured a modest glass of whisky, and sat down.
A few minutes later, my Wife came downstairs.
Her: Is there anything I can do?
Me: I think it may be too late for that.
Her: What does that mean?
I had to steel myself for the reply.
Me: I think you all need to sit down and work out what you’re going to do without me.
I haven’t the faintest idea what Her initial response was.
She sat down.
A conversation ensued.

Amongst much of the above, I told Her She has become the enemy – a phrase that has gone through my head numerous times in the last couple of years – and although I did my best to say I didn’t think She was the only one at fault, there was a whole lot of shit that got aired.
And She’d be better off finding someone who made Her happy. I entirely meant it.
I heard little that really surprised me. I heard little that made me think She might actually want me to stay.
We have both dug ourselves into defensive trenches; positions which We see no merit in surrendering. And from my peep-holed bunker, through the clamour of battle, it’s hard to hear any words of conciliation.
They were apparently there, and I apologised for not hearing them.
Ultimately the conversation died a tortured death and We retreated to our respective rooms.

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