Suddenly I was back in the traffic jam at the modern day Valley Forge.
“Dammit,” I said, “back in Alone Reality.”
Everything moved slowly. Eventually The ShortCut took me to Road-76 Pennsylvania, and it was also full of traffic desperate to get to their Memorial Day Weekend plans.
Memorial Day Weekend is a holiday weekend about how you’re supposta be remembering past American Reality Wars, but you actually just go outside and have a barbeque with your family.
Even I hadta get back to The Smaller Nest where Mom and Dad were having their own traditional barbeque. The Road ended up taking a long time, and I got sleepy, and my hangover came back, and my butt hurt, and I’d even heard The Mix so many times by then it had stopped giving me The Chills very often. I was so Road-Weary all I could think was please just have at least something from The Great List of Food there when I get back.
When I finally pulled into the driveway I hadta go up and ring the doorbell cuz I still didn’t have a key. Dad answered.
“You’re just in time!” he said. “The food’s all ready.”
Then he led me to the back porch, where there was a sizzling grill with meat smells and an umbrella table filled with platters of creamy mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, sweet rolls, a pitcher of homemade lemonade, and even a whole just outta the oven StrawberryRhubarb Pie.
“Oh my Gods!” I said, “This whole barbeque is full of food from The Great List of Food.”
“Did you see what was on the grill?” Dad said.
Then he opened it up, and my nose hadn’t tricked me, it really was the grilled pink meat of a big salmon.
“Is this some kind of mirage?” I said. “What bout Spiritual Growth and toxins?”
“It’s all alright,” Mom said. “It’s all organic so it has less toxins.”
“And the toxins it does have we can overlook because it’s a holiday,” Dad said.
It was great. I didn’t feel any TimeFuck swirls, and even The Buddhawg wasn’t biting me for some reason.
“Where’s the dog?” I said.
Mom pointed, and he was just laying there on the porch quietly with a little pant-mouth smile. Then he noticed me watching and got up and sweetly licked my hand.
“What’s going on here?” I said.
“Oh, he must be getting used to you now,” Mom said.
Then we sat down and started eating, and it was just as good as I thought. My mouth didn’t want it to stop going in, and there was more than enough to fill my plate twice. It was like I’d just TimeTraveled back to some perfect year from the very center of my childhood. Eventually tho Dad did remind me I was on The Great Trip.
“So,” he said, “I hear you’ve been doing a lot of driving lately.”
“Driving?…” I said, but then looked down at my Bluebird sticker still right on the front of my jacket. “Oh yeah.”
Then I told him all about it, like which exact Roads I’d taken, and where the worst traffic jams were, and how long it took to get from one city to another, and how many miles per gallon of gasoline Wings was getting.
“Wow!” he said, “you’ve really come along way. I remember when you wouldn’t even get on the tricycle.”
“He’s just like you now,” Mom said to him. “All those vacations when we used to drive as long as you could without stopping.”
“Well, you can rest up here tonight before your big drive West again.”
“Actually I have to go out tonight,” I said.
“Tsst,” Mom said, “Why?”
It was hard enough explaining Reality Travel to Mom, but whenever I brought it up with Dad he always seemed to argue with me about it.
“Where are you Traveling to now?” he asked.
“TheGeneral&TheAdmiral,” I said.
“I didn’t know you were still friends with them.”
“Then why go?”
“Because I have to.”
“So Reality Travel means you have to spend time and energy on people you don’t care to be around?”
“Sometimes it does.”
“How will that make you feel?”
“I’ll feel great if I can MeToo them.”
“So you still need their Acceptance?”
“Look, Dad, I don’t know all the Self Growth Terminology, but according to Reality Travel not MeTooing could mean War, and that’s the worst thing that could happen.”
“What does War mean? The Pain of not being Accepted by them?”
“No, War means War. Realities getting destroyed forever by guns and bombs. By MeTooing them tonight, I’ll actually be saving The World.”
“Oh, so it has nothing to do with still feeling Wounded by their past Criticism?”
“Or getting devastated by Criticism of any kind because you believe other’s opinions of you, and your self-esteem depends on it?”
“I know you’re trying to Self Growth me, Dad. But I don’t need it. I’m Grown enough.”
“Is it really Grown to feel terrible about yourself over something as small as someone not liking the same song as you?”
“You’re not getting it.”
“All I can speak from is my own experience. I’ve discovered thru my Self Growth that I have Wounds from long ago that make me Fearful of other’s Disapproval. I became a doctor because I wanted Approval. I built a big house because I wanted Approval. I held back my Authentic Self because I wanted Approval. But it’s only made me suffer. Now I’m trying to Heal my Wounds, let go of the need for Approval, and learn to Follow My Heart. I believe if you truly Follow Your Heart it doesn’t matter if anyone else MeToos you or not.”
“Well, me, The Professor and every other Reality Traveler believe that MeToos are everything. And we’re not supposta stop until we MeToo every Reality in The World.”
“Supposed to? Who says?”
“The Gods! I know you don’t think they’re real, but they are. I’ve been to The Other World and seen them, and I’m even in Love with one. She’ll probably even be coming here right now to prove it to you.”
We waited a few minutes, but The Goddess of Faith didn’t show up.
“Sometimes,” Dad said, “what we think is a Higher Power is really just a part of ourselves…”
“You don’t understand at all!” I interrupted.
Then I got up and grabbed a slice of pie.
“I’m going to my room to eat this and play Stuffed Animal War!” I said.
“We put all the stuffed animals in the basement,” Mom said.
“Then I’m going down there!”