The Adventures of Adam Atteburry is a collaborative storytelling project. Adam is being shipped around the world and the photographs are returned to me here where I force them into a story. If you’re interested in hosting Adam Atteburry, go here to learn more.
Adam Atteburry was at a crossroad. Or a fork. Or whatever.
When he went to bed on Monday he was certain of where he was headed, but when he woke up on Tuesday he had completely lost the faith that he had in his plan. It was a similar feeling to the one you get when you dress yourself up and leave the house in the morning but are having second thoughts before you ever reach the office. Do these shoes go with these pants? Is this shirt too tight? Adam knew what he was wearing, but he didn’t know if the ideas in his head clashed with reality.
It was a Tuesday. The day that he took the suitcase from under his bed and started packing. It was a Tuesday. The day that he called up his boss and said “I won’t be coming in today, or tomorrow. Or ever again.” It was a Tuesday. The day that he leapt from a metaphoric cliff with no plan for a safe landing.
Packing for an unknown destination or an unknown length of time is actually easier than you might think. When you know where you’re going or for how long, you end up over-thinking your choices. I will be there for five days, you think, so I need five pairs of socks plus three extra just in case. When you don’t know, or don’t care about how long you’ll be gone you just grab a handful of underwear and figure you’ll worry about laundry when you get to that point.
Adam found that the chaos and stress that comes with deciding to fuck everything and give up on life was calmed when packing. There’s something relaxing about deciding which items were valuable enough to take with you and which items you no longer had to care about preserving. Adam imagined that this was probably a very similar feeling that Noah had when creating the boarding list for his cruise.
On the last look around the apartment before taking off to the airport, Adam noticed the potted fern sitting near the window. It was a house-warming gift from his mother – a gift that he had always resented. ”Is the responsibility of a houseplant really a gift?” he complained to his sister. “And it’s not like I can just let the plant die or throw it out,” he said. ”You know mom. She’s going to be asking about it.”
Oh shit! he thought. Mom! Adam had been so caught up in his plan to ditch all plans that he had forgotten about his family. He knew that his friends would move on without him. He understood that his fern would dry up and die. But he hadn’t thought of what would happen to his mom when he left. The worry started to bubble up in his stomach like a boiling pot.
He sent his mom a text message that read, “Have to leave town unexpectedly. Will message you when I get there. Love you tons.” After he hit send, he shut off his cell phone and the boiling pot in his gut boiled over. He ran to the bathroom but not all of it made it to the toilet. He had no problem leaving his furniture in his apartment for someone else to deal with. He didn’t mind that he was leaving behind an almost rotten, partially empty half-gallon of 2% milk. But he couldn’t fathom the idea of leaving a puddle of his vomit for someone else to clean up. There are certain things that other people shouldn’t have to see, he thought.
He grabbed the mop and reached for a paper towel.
There was only one paper towel left on the spindle, and he smiled. Last night he was so worried that he’d forget the list: Paper towels, Comet, frozen chicken breasts. He kept repeating it. Paper towels, Comet, frozen chicken breasts. He hadn’t forgotten it. Yet now, after his decision, it made no difference.
Adam always put his life into lists. To-do lists. Priority lists. His life was one big list. Which reminded him, had to quickly take care of one big decision he had…which he used a pro & con list to figure out who to choose.
Adam left his apartment and locked the door behind him. He put the key under the mat and figured he would email his landlady once he was far away. Far away.
Getting far away isn’t going to be cheap. So he went to the ATM and withdrew all of his money. He had just under $4,000 and he took it all out of his account. Every good story he had ever read about a person fleeing his old life and every story about someone hiding from the law always included details about how they would avoid using credit cards. While nobody was chasing Adam, he thought that maybe this was the best idea.
With $4,000 in his pocket, a packed suitcase and no plan, Adam walked to the train station. He stopped and did a dramatic exhale that would have made for a perfect closeup after the inciting incident of every hackneyed Hollywood script.
It was a Tuesday, the day that he decided to change his life.