All of my misery fantasies end the same way: I’m in Wyoming. Alone. As old and as gray as the gray, old sky. I’ve just locked up the diner where I made about forty bucks on the late shift, and it’s windy as all get out, and I’ve got a helluva long walk home, but I don’t really mind because I’ve already lost everything, and the wind’s all I’ve got. Oh, and maybe a pack of cigarettes, and if I have the cigarettes, maybe a lighter, maybe one my brother gave me, years ago, when we were in the habit of picking up bad habits.
I don’t know why. It’s just my go-to, my if-I-lost-everyone-and-everything-I-loved-at-least-I’d-still-have-Wyoming-because-I-sure-do-love-that-sky-and-how-it-makes-me-feel-so-un-alone. Of course, the fantasy has its variations, most of which are apocalyptic and involve my weather-battered husband and our wild-haired infant daughter-turned-teenager, but all of them take place in Wyoming.
I thought of this the other day when Yavuz Burke, a native of Turkey and a Canadian citizen, stole a Cessna 172 from a Canadian flight school and landed it in southern Missouri after almost six hours of eluding F-16 fighter jets. I imagine Burke as a young boy in Turkey, drawing in the dirt with a stick, putting a big X right there in the heartland, Missouri, he’d say to himself, that’s where I want it to all go down.
Reportedly, Burke went into a general store and bought himself a Gatorade. He’d also tried to purchase a Beef Jerky but didn’t have enough cash. Canadian authorities are quoted as saying that Burke is “not a happy individual,” and I love that they bring happiness in. Hmm…happy men do not steal planes, fly them to other countries, walk into a 7-11 and plop down a buck-fifty for a Gatorade. Thirsty men, maybe; happy men, no.
But it’s all got me thinking about place, about how it buoys us and frees us, how it gives us hope or sends shudders down our spines (read: the burbs), how it makes us re-imagine ourselves. If we have the wind, we say, then maybe we can make it. Even just another day. And yea, yea, I know, I know, no matter where you go there you are, but I’m curious, what’s your place? Where does your mind send you? And what, please tell, is it saving you from?