A not-so fantastic voyage

For the past two years, Ive spent the school year living in a large Midwestern burg that Ill call Midland City (for no other reason than to avoid a libel lawsuit, as I plan on making outrageous and clearly fabricated claims about the place). Despite the fact that I grew up in Saranac Lake and thus believe that big cities turn formerly vibrant humans into dead-eyed automatons concerned only with accumulating material wealth and complaining about rush-hour traffic Ive managed to survive in Midland City without losing my grasp on reality, fleeing into the Alaskan wilderness, and dying on an abandoned bus, Alexander Supertramp-style. But even though Ive maintained my sanity while stranded in a blighted urban heckscape Midland City consists almost entirely of trash-strewn, poorly lit alleyways and trash-strewn, poorly lit dumpsters I still shudder with relief when I get home in early June. And once Im here, I like to stay put for the summer. Sure, I might make the occasional trip to Lake Placid or Tupper Lake, and I might even venture as far as Plattsburgh once or twice, but such voyages make me break out in a cold sweat and shake like a poorly maintained 1986 Nissan Sentra trying to break fifty-five. Im kind of like a felon whos spent most of his life in the joint and then, as an ancient and decrepit man, gets released. Outside the joint Saranac Lake, in this case I dont know what to do with myself. Eventually, maybe fifteen minutes after leaving town, I get so desperate to return to the only place I belong that Im willing to do anything to get back like knock off a liquor store, say, or murder a goose. Of course, Saranac Lake isnt actually a prison, so knocking off a liquor store or murdering a goose wouldnt get me back in, but I think Ive made my point (thanks to what I now see as a rather muddled analogy). So imagine my discomfort when, last month, I had to drive to Midland City and move all of my stuff from one apartment to another. Id love to describe in tedious and labyrinthine detail the circumstances that necessitated my move, but I wont. Ill just say that if you borrow your roommates flat-screen television when hes out of town, hawk it at a pawn shop, and blow the money on (losing) lottery tickets, back issues of Nintendo Power magazine, and untold cases of supermarket-brand citrus soda, hell probably request that you move at your earliest convenience. Anyway, regardless of my uneasiness, I left Saranac Lake for Midland City, accompanied by my friend Dave, whod offered to help me move. The shakes and gagging began about halfway to Tupper Lake and, realizing that I was about to spew a half-digested mix of Frosted Flakes and supermarket-brand citrus soda all over the dashboard, I pulled into a parking area and kicked open my door. In my distress, I forgot that Id borrowed my parents pickup for the move and that the ground was therefore a foot lower than it is when I get out of the compact sedan I usually drive. I stepped out into the air, experienced a nanosecond of shocked disbelief (the kind of shocked disbelief a skydiver might feel when he realizes that what he thought was his parachute is actually a backpack full of bricks), and sprawled face first onto the asphalt. On the downside, Dave spent the next ten hours laughing at me and saying things like Man, I cant wait to tell everyone I know about this and Man, everyones going to think youre a complete idiot when they hear this story. On the upside, my little tumble not only scared the puke back down my throat, but also gave me a good reason to want to stay out of Saranac Lake for a few days. Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at dpleonidas@yahoo.com or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.

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