A 40 year old’s flashback to his late-teens, early-twenties but performed as a film or television program where the actors are 5-10 years older than the ages they portray. I play myself but as a 17? 18? year old with a 25 year old’s body. The layout is essentially my parents’ Tulip Drive house from Gaithersburg but moved from some suburb to be perched on a cliff, overlooking a valley that’s two parts Tolkein’s Middle Earth, one part Tom Robbins’ Thailand, and one part Joseph Conrad’s Africa. There’s a distinct pattern of fog cover flowing like lava through that valley. It extends forever. We’re gathering our gear to make what we know will be at least a four day journey down and through this valley. We’re making this trek without any adult supervision. The gear is all modern but the epoch feels very Victorian. There’s a lot of horsing around among those of us going on this trek. Most of the rough housing feels like it’s for the sake of breaking the tension. None of us have any illusions about this being easy. There are at least six of us here (maybe more) preparing to go but you can tell by the looks on individual faces that there are only really four of us truly committed to seeing this through. (Unfortunately, that committment will have to be resolved before setting foot from this house.) I’m flirting a lot with a particular skinny girl in the group, hoisting her up on to my back (piggy-back style) and running up and down the stairs with her, teasing that carrying her around is more difficult than what lie ahead of us. (“What, are you trying to impress me or something?”) I get this vague sense that we’re dating but that efforts have been made to keep it more-or-less a secret. Being around her doesn’t feel right. We’re not very well matched but I’ve tried to delude myself that we are. In a way, I think I’ve done this (gotten involved with her) as a means of distracting myself from the journey through the valley below. It would be wrong to back out. We’re getting our final bit of gear together, making snide remarks at each others’ expenses, she and I casting furtive glances (mis-matched but steeling each others’ resolves nonetheless), some folks shifting feet uncomfortably, and at last reaching for the door.