Saturday, June 11, 2011
Returing from a Week's Worth of Camps.
I stood on the cold concrete subway platform waiting for the train. The Wonderland Station was crowded with Imaginarium employees doing what I was doing, trying to get home after having spent several days fueling the imaginations of scores of children and teens involved in the Space Center's camps.
The air was strangely void of conversation. People were exhausted. They stood shifting their weight from one foot to the other. Their eyes were fixed on different points of interest. Some stared at the large billboard opposite the tracks advertising Voyages of Imagination on the StarDust Dreamliner. Others seemed preoccupied with shoes, looking up only to check the illuminated clock with a six foot diameter face overhead. A green tortoise sat at the end of the hour hand using his head to point to the passing hours. A hare sat frozen in a leap at the end of the minute hand. The craftsmanship was exquisite, a testament to the skill of the Imagineers who built the station one thought at a time.
I closed my eyes and thought about my vacation home in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My thoughts were read by the Imaginarium's night shift. Someone on the fifty first floor pulled the right combination of levers sending the smell of ponderosa pine through the air circulation system. I held a thumbs up high over my head in appreciation.
The rose lights hanging delicately from green vines circling the station's ceiling started to dim then brighten. Everyone's attention shifted to the left. Out in the dark was the incoming 6:15 train. I felt someone's hand on my back, an impatient gesture urging me to move closer to the platform's edge. I resisted.
"Patience patience. We all want to get home," I mumbled. There was more jostling as everyone filled in the open spaces hoping to find a seat on a train that was notoriously crowded.
A cold wind racing ahead of the train blew through the station, replacing the smell of summer pine with the scent of humid fog. The crowd moved forward in unison, acting as one enormous beast. The train appeared, speeding quickly by then slowed to a stop. It's double doors slid open revealing cars packed tightly with employees from the Dreamland Station. We looked at them. They looked at us. It was a test of wills. We wanted in and their appearance made it perfectly clear they didn't want us to try.
"All Aboard!" the conducted shouted. The overhead rose colored lights ignited in full brilliance. The beast surged ahead. I was unceremoniously pushed forward. I remember encountering a large woman at the door wearing a pink dress decorated with flamingos and smelling of lilac and perspiration. Her elbows swung round like an electric mixer as she vainly tried to keep her valued spot near the doorway. She failed.
I think I briefly passed out because the next thing I remember was standing in the center of the car being propped up by the bodies of those around me. The train lurched forward sending everyone back one or two steps. The Wonderland Station disappeared behind us, replaced by the total dark of the tunnel. I was on my way home to a hot meal, family, friends, my favorite TV shows and soft bed with downy pillows.
Hello reality...... You were missed...