Ready? Go! You’ve got 30 minutes to Contextualize “Ice Cream Sanctuary”

I occasionally like to participate in spontaneous writing competitions. And by competitions I mean I set a timer, find a prompt, and write. It turns out others like to do this too. It’s surprisingly fun. I dare you to try it. For instance, last night a group of semi-strangers and I got together at a bar and wrote about ice cream sanctuaries – well at least our interpretation of “ice cream sanctuary”. The result was stories about all sorts of stuff: angry ex-girlfriends, overweight sadists, cavemen being introduced to new things…

Anyways I liked my story because it brought together a lot of strands of thoughts in my head, new and old.

The sky feels bigger in the morning, holding all of the untold stories the day is about to unfold. This is my thought as I drive straight into the sunrise, leaving behind memories I don’t feel the need to remember. Instead my mind wanders to the place I used to call home, maybe the only place I can or will ever be able to call home. I have been a wanderer since I first took the wheel. Scratch that, since I was able to leave my backyard on my own.

I have always had an unquenchable thirst for the place just beyond the horizon. The unreachable. That evasive paradise that lies just over the next hill, past the telephone lines.

I used to wake up and climb out my window. I’d just stare at the rooftops. Watching the busy people starting their busy days. Lights on. Lights off. Garage door up. Garage door down. I would name the neighbors, not by their real names but by the personality of their presence. Trenchcoat Tom. Pam and her Poodle. Hurrying Harry.

That was before I became one of those busy people. Before I discovered the weight of responsibility and mortgages and aging parents. Actually I don’t think I ever fully became one of them. Part of me still thinks I am that young girl who sat on rooftops and dreamed up stories with the clouds.

Blame it on my dad. He was always making up stories, unfolding them chapter by chapter each night before bed. Stories so vivid they would weave themselves seamlessly into my dreams- flying through the hot air balloon castles or swimming under the sea.  I remember this one story about the ice cream sanctuary. He made it up to get me to stop crying. I had just dropped my drippy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cone face down on the ground. He said not to worry. That ice cream catastrophes were actually a chance to add to the ice cream sanctuary. You see the ice cream sanctuary was captured in the clouds, collecting shapes and stories of dropped drips and slips.

When did he stop telling stories? Before or after his tumor and prognosis? I should write them down, hire an illustrator to capture their color. Although I don’t know if that would do them any justice. I wonder if he would remember them. If they blazed the same mark in his mind as they did mine. Sometimes I wonder if the stories we create are really that different than the ones we think we remember, if reality even exists. Who is to say I couldn’t show up in a new city and create a new self, rewrite my story present and past?

These are my thoughts as I cross another state line. Traveling always makes me feel this longing for something else, something just beyond the horizon.

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