It’s a weird thing, I guess, but I tend to get homesick for this place I’ve never been. There are a lot of places I’ve never been, of course. I mean, there are a lot of places most people have never been, but I feel particularly exceptional in that area. I’ve never really left my hometown.

I guess that’s a misstatement of the facts. I’ve travelled a bit within the county. I’ve been to a few other towns nearby, for shopping or dinner or visiting a friend who moved away. But I’ve never left the county. I’ve never left the state. Everything I know of other places I’ve gleaned from movies and television and books and the internet.

Except one other place that I used to go in my dreams, a place I just called There. It was a rather generic fantasy world where everything was beautiful: rolling fields of grass, always tousled artfully by pleasant breezes, and stands of trees with boughs so full of leaves that they seemed like the might topple over at any moment.

No matter where I stood there was always a castle in the distance, picturesque and lovely, generally atop a hill or surrounded by manicured gardens. Sometimes I visited the castles, where the inhabitants, even the Kings and Queens, were kind and welcoming to me.

That was the main thing about There. Everyone was nice all the time. Nothing bad ever happened. Every part of it was a pleasure to behold, whether it be the landscapes or the people or the buildings.

I needed that, as a child, because things around me were ugly. My house was always dirty and unkempt. My parents were unkind to one another, and not so great to me, though I know other people had it worse. My town was drab and boring. My “friends” were just people I associated with at school. We never got together outside of school, because my house and my parents embarrassed me, and my mom would never drive me over to my friends’ homes.

I can’t seem to recapture the feeling of wonder and peace that There used to bring me. Maybe the strength of my imagination has atrophied with age. The closest I can get is when I’m falling asleep at night, finally, after hours of struggle, and I can sometimes smell the sweet aroma of wildflowers brushing across my face, blown by a soft wind.

I get homesick for There because I need it now even more than I did as a child. My parents have graduated from unkind to mean. My wife pays more attention to her phone than she does to me. My kitchen is full of dirty dishes, and the floor hasn’t been vacuumed in months, and I don’t even want to talk about the bathroom.

If only I could rediscover There, and I could talk to the kind, pleasant people; if I could just lay in the high, comforting grasses once more, looking up a sky filled with just the right amount of puffy white clouds, maybe my home would be easier to bear.

But my mind is slow now, and more glued to reality, where everything is dark and bland, and the people are not nearly as friendly as those in There. The wind is never pleasant, but cold and gusty. The tall grass holds ants and ticks, not a pleasant nap. I guess I’ll never go back There, even though it was so much better than here.

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