There was a house whose nebulous location must have been sufficiently distant enough to present difficulties for the day-tripper but close enough that one did not have to take a plane to reach the site. (About a day’s drive?) It must have been in the mountains of either eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, or southeastern Virginia. As for the year, it seemed to be the early twentieth century, despite my realization that I was a twenty-first-century man.

The house was a refuge…

I met with my parents at this location on one occasion. I retained enough awareness of the outside world to know that I was sickly, unable to move much and knew I couldn’t take myself to the bathroom as I wanted. The strange thing is that it wasn’t our house. It was furnished but empty of occupants and adjacent to a railroad depot. A fire burned in the fireplace, and I could see the cardinals flitting about in the gently falling snow out of a picture window. I was comforted by this scenery, but couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong.

But the only constant is change…

Eventually, we learned that the house belonged to a family whose circumstances put the house’s future in jeopardy. So, I might lose my refuge. Fortunately, a community of people came together to assist the family in preserving the house since it provided such comfort to wearied travelers. Someone suggested that the family covert the house into a place where people could convalesce. By opening the residence up to such usage, the family could receive outside financial support. The family agreed as long as everyone decided to leave their family’s heirlooms untouched.

Does it sound as if something were wrong? I suppose it does not. On the contrary, I was happy that things worked out to preserve the house but understood that my place there was limited. After my reunion with my parents, it felt as if they had left and gone far away. I was alone again, despite hearing the voices of others in the house. And soon, I was transported to another location, though I know not how or why. I was lying on a cold street amid a sprawling metropolis.

And all good things…

In the cold city, people walked past me lying on the concrete. Finally, a good Samaritan contacted the authorities, who had an ambulance transport me to the hospital. I recall being relieved as I would receive care. And though I felt cared for, my thoughts kept returning to the house and my parents. (As an aside, this metropolis was not unlike a save point in a video game. So I returned there often during those days of my lost year.)

I sensed my pain and discomfort and wanted to be well and return to “normal” life. I wanted to see my loved ones again. And I wanted to return to the tiny mountain house with the picture window and playful cardinals.