“I ought to go start the car.”
(I have a twenty-two year old car and if you don’t start it up at least once a week it feels neglected and refuses to start. I had been away for eight days.)
I ought to go start the car.
But I don’t want to.
Starting the car tells me “It’s over.” Starting the car means definitively “I’m home.”
It’s like my thing with the elevator. One of my great fears is being trapped in an elevator. But somehow, blessed with unusual thinking pattern, I have led myself to believe that if I do not press the red “Emergency Button” you are instructed to press when you get trapped in an elevator, I am not officially “Trapped in an elevator.” In this way, I can temporarily delude myself, imagining instead that the stopped elevator is simply taking a break. Pressing the red “Emergency Button” certifies to all and sundry, particularly to my highly sensitive “Fight-or-Flight” nervous system, that I am unequivocally trapped in an elevator.
Pressing the red “Emergency Button” announces that I am trapped. Starting my car announces that I’m back.
Not that it’s terrible to be back; there are a number of good things about it, such as reuniting with my family. But it’s not where I was, a place with identifiable advantages. Not an insult to here; that’s the reason you go places.
“Three thousand a week for making your regular life appear better”?
No thank you. That reasoning is too twisted even for me. That’s like spending a week at Guantanamo so you will better appreciate Levenworth. Not that my regular life is “Levenworth”, but you know it’s not worth it.
Where I went was magical. (Example: Despite the rigorously regulated portion control, I was never hungry there the entire week. The moment I stepped off the returning bus at the airport, I was suddenly voracious. I bought a bag of popcorn whose caloric content was the equivalent of two previously totally satisfying meals. By the way, I am currently starving, and it is only eleven A.M. I have no idea how they do it.)
Without going into details, which, to do the place justice would require evocative adjectives, thus exposing my limited vocabulary – I couldn’t even think of a better descriptive to put before “adjectives” – I will adhere to a single overall impression.
“I outta go wind the clock.”
Not yet, “Italicized Inner Director.” I am describing this place I went to. And by doing so, I am returning myself there so I am not entirely back home.
Here’s the thing, in the “Overall Impression” department. There is a particular, unspoken but I believe collectively experienced illusion about this place I went to, that illusion being that…
Nothing can happen to you there.
And by “nothing” I mean nothing tragic or terrible.
You go to this place – and a contributor to the illusion is that the road that takes you there winds over hills and dales, around mountains and down into valleys, so many of them, in fact, that you literally feel transported to… another dimension if you’re a Twilight Zone enthusiast, or, if you like musicals, Brigadoon or Glocca Morra.
It is literally “Someplace Else.” (Except to the local citizens who would have no idea what I am talking about. “What do you mean ‘Someplace Else’? It’s just here!”)
Not for the visitors.
For the visitors, escaping pressure and stress, debilitation and loss – among other unbidden contingencies…
The place is an Oasis.
A deliberately generated “Time Out.” A protective “Out of Bounds” area, safely outside of the field of play. You are in “Virtual Switzerland” – an insulating “Neutral Zone”, reliably free of all negative happenstance.
You are, effectively, in a Mexican cocoon.
(Is it any wonder I don’t advertise the name? I mean, you can find it easily enough, but why should I help and make it harder for me to get in?)
“I outta go work on my taxes.”
Not yet, okay? Reminiscing fills me with a sense of retroactive security.
No TV in the rooms, no unsolicited phone calls – just while writing this, I have picked up my ringing telephone and heard, “Congratulation! You’ve been selected to receive a free cruise to the Bahamas!” – the most, if I were a spiritual person I would say, “spiritual” surroundings including nearby sacred Mount Kuchumaa with its, I am sure you are tired of hearing it by now, invisible Mariachi band performing a spirited playlist especially for me…
And then there’s the people.
All of them – all of us – our shoulders mercifully unhunched, liberated from the hopefully rewarding but concomitantly punishing “Line of Fire” that we have chosen to call our life.
I can talk to strangers there, without their reaching for “Mace” or speed-dialing the authorities. I encountered a woman who covers an NFL team for a major metropolitan newspaper. A guest lecturer on meditational “Mindfulness.” I hiked ten minutes with a man I had never met who then confided he was a cancer survivor, and who subsequently told me this joke:
“If I get really sick, pull the plug. Then plug me back in, and see if it helps.”
The magnificent “Flip Side”, of course, is that I can tell stuff to them. And being strangers, they have never heard any of my stories!
Any wonder that I love the place?
“I should really go check my e-mail.”
In a minute!
I understand “illusion.” I know there is no such thing as an “Insulating Bubble.”
Your Fate is your Fate, and it will find you, wherever you are, and whenever it wants to. You can never elude what Popeye used to call your “deskiny.”
Though it feels there – illusionarily – like, for a week at least…
For me, a week of that feeling is worth the price of admission. And then some.
And now – I just sighed – I shall terminate this activity and head out to the garage to check on my car.
I am back now.
And it would be a good idea to know if it starts.