I’ve lived a magical life. For the most part.
My early years were spent circulating the west. I was born in Denver but never really called it home. Most of my childhood happened in San Diego under sunshine and surrounded by the salty ocean atmosphere. I loved my little neighborhood. An eclectic group of people who found a common love for one another and treated neighbors like family. I spent most of my time at Hodad’s, home of the world’s best burgers. Sometimes I would go play games at the arcade down the street or check out the new arrivals over at the nearest surf shop, but I always ended up back at Hodad’s. On multiple occasions I watched the sunset over the Pacific as surfers caught their final waves for the night. One time my friends even buried me in the sand. It was hilarious, until they left without digging me up. A little harsh if you ask me. But somebody soon came by and brushed me off, so it wasn’t all that bad. And of course we headed back to Hodad’s.
I loved what I had going. A chill life filled with fun characters and world famous food. I couldn’t ask for more. But I did. I was young then and didn’t realize that sometimes the best adventure is the one you’re already having.
I worked hard to find a ride out of town and onto bigger and better things. I was picked up by a college aged guy. We didn’t stick together long. He stopped at some place with a golden “M” out front for lunch one day, and I was appalled at what he called a burger. He’d had Hodad’s. He knew what I burger was supposed to look like, to taste like. No way that thing was a burger. With my passionate stance on beef patties causing strife, we went our separate ways just outside of LA. There, I met a family heading east, back home from a summer road trip. They were nice enough, though a bit energetic for my taste. Their home was Chicago, and on the way back we stopped at nearly every attraction imaginable. In and out of the car. In and out. It was killing me. We were driving across the country but I wasn’t experiencing anything of substance. Most times I just stayed in the car while they got out to take those generic vacation pictures all tourists indulge in.
It wasn’t until Saint Louis that I actually got out to enjoy myself. We rode up to the top of the Gateway Arch and marveled at the views. They were astounding. The only other view that had given me the same kind of feeling of peace was a Pacific sunset. Something about seeing how vast the world is makes you comfortable in your meagerness.
Hours passed before I realized the family had left without me. I had formed an odd attachment to them during our journey and was somewhat hurt by their lack of concern for my well-being. But I understood; it was time for them to move on and for me to follow my own path. I was content just staying up in the Arch a bit longer, taking in the view and thinking of the history behind this architectural marvel. I was able to go undetected when the last security guard did a final sweep before going home for the night. Looking out at the sun falling behind the city, I found comfort in knowing that same sun would be setting over my home in a couple of hours.
I was awoken the next morning by a child shaking me with excitement. I had never seen anybody so excited to see me, and we had never met. It felt nice to own a slice of celebrity, even though I had no idea what I’d done to deserve it. I went with her to find her mother. She was adamant about introducing us, and I couldn’t say no to that sweet face.
I wish I had. I wish I had had the sense to stay away from the fanatical little girl. She was adorable and sweet at first, but it was only a show she’d put on for me. A way to get close to me.
I’ll never forget later that evening when she locked me away, the last glimpse of sunlight being devoured by the darkness. I wasn’t surprised to see that I wasn’t the first victim. Once I adjusted to the dark, I saw a handful of others cowering in the darkness with me. I felt sick. Why would anybody do this? Take away the light? The adventure?
I don’t know how long it’s been since that day. I used to try tracking the days, but after awhile they all just blurred together. Every once in awhile the girl would open our prison, light peaking through as though to tease me, and add another prisoner. She even let many of my fellow captives go, but for some reason she’s extra careful not to release me.
I have no hope now. I will never see my home again. Never smell the salty ocean air or hear the buzz in the kitchen as burgers are flipped and fries fried. My home is gone. It is only a memory. My biggest adventure is behind me, and I didn’t even realize I was on it until it was over.