It never fails.

Just when you are in the home stretch of one writing project you become seized with a brand new idea. There will be no editing of your 200-page pile of amateur tonight. No, no; you’ve got something better coming down the pipe.

For me, today, it’s the topic of women leaving. I started thinking about women leaving about a month ago after getting the feeling that a brilliant, sensational woman I know may be forming a plan to make a major exit, but that it will not manifest itself for a decade or so. More mindblowing is that I think that she’s taking the right path. Regardless of selfish flight having become such a regular occasion in our lives, sometimes women just know they have to stay, even for a long time, even when they’ve already decided to leave.

Without realizing it, I’ve been considering this so seriously because I’m thinking about a leave of my own. I haven’t made it all the way to the decision, but I’m getting there. That’s how we do it though, and here’s why:

When you hear about a man leaving his family out of the blue, you think, “What a scumbag. What a loser. Of course he left.”

When you hear about a woman taking off and leaving her family behind, you are outraged. You want to call the police. Clearly, she is a sociopath. For the good of us all, and for the vengeance of her offspring, the woman needs our scorn.

I don’t say this because I find it unfair to women, though I do find it unfair. I think that it’s unfair that men tend miss out on the depth and breadth and the boundary-stretching agony that it is to make a decision to leave and leave for good reason. As women, we’re loathe to leave anything because we’re born to be nurturers. Somehow we manage to apply this to not only our families, but our careers, our hobbies, our churches, our volunteer work, our face wash, our vacation spots, our hairstylists… We don’t like to leave.

Things deserve leaving sometimes though. Men deserve it, accountants deserve it, jobs do, our cellphone carriers do. Sometimes we just have to leave, and often it takes a phenomenal journey through our insecurities and identities to get there, even in the most seemingly mundane of exits.

So that’s my idea, to write a collection of short stories about women leaving. They will leave their spouses and their plans and their jobs and their singledom and their dogs. These stories are important, I think, because women – at least the women I know – don’t just leave. They transform. And often they have to make an exit to do so.

Isn’t that reason enough to not take out the red pen tonight?

*Originally posted via the site formally known as natalieburgblog.blogspot.com on July 6 2010

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