So I'm threading my way through the back roads of some town in Connecticut I've never before seen, and the thought pops into my head: "Why is this such a big deal?" It's not a big deal, I said to myself; I'm just cruising the countryside at 30 miles per hour, seeing the sights. Nothing wrong with that.
Normally at this point the thoughts fighting for space at the front of my head will go off and process data received and leave me the hell alone. But not today. "You should not be here. You are trespassing. You must turn back at once." And to make sure I was paying attention, a pain that had been dormant for a few days suddenly decided to flare up.
I knew what was going on back there, of course. One inevitable consequence of seeing new places is wondering what it might be like to live in those places. And there's no reason to think I could ever live in some town in Connecticut; this state seems to be inordinately expensive, and as an ostensible IT professional approaching the age of fifty, I have no hope of making anything more than a marginal living here. (This is why I bailed out of California in the late Eighties; if I was going to be broke, better to be broke in a place that doesn't cost so much.)
Not that everything about it would be horrible. For one thing, I'd be over a thousand miles away from 42nd and Treadmill, which, deprived of its one voice of reason and forced to fend for itself, would start its inevitable slide into deserved oblivion that much faster. I'd be dealing, for once, with a climate whose harsher aspects actually make some sort of sense. And I'd get to see an occasional tree; developers in Oklahoma consider trees only slightly less of a nuisance than plutonium.
But no good can come of thinking about it. I can't possibly afford to pull up stakes and move, and I probably never will. And it's not like anyone here is hoping I'll stay. Still, the core issues aren't financial: the fact is, I am a person whose dreams are worthless, whose schemes are more so, and whose personality is damaged beyond repair. The idea that I could build a new life for myself in New England, or anywhere for that matter, is foolish in the extreme; nowhere can I claim the right to ask for a do-over.
And yes, I know, there is no shortage of miracles in the world, but I see no reason why one should be wasted on me. I have been given much: a small amount of brainpower, a few good friends, and the occasional distant glimpse of romance. What I have made of it, however, is a travesty, an embarrassment, a miserable excuse for a life. Sooner or later I will be forced to accept things as they are, face my fate, and start my own slide into oblivion. Contrary to popular belief, I am not looking forward to it, but it's all I have.
Note: The original title of this piece was "Bristol Stomped", which made no sense except to readers in Connecticut, and not much at that, and they probably didn't like it anyway.
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Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill