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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: Lights out

Lights out

Our voyage through life doesn't pass through completely uncharted territory. We are gently guided by numerous sets of traffic signs, whether they come from social conventions, friendly tips or civil laws. Every now and then, however, Life the Prankster flips the switch and for a moment lets us grope in a complete darkness, leaving only starry skies of our instincts to guide us on. These moments are sort of like the bubbles in a freshly opened bottle of champagne. Not the same substance as the wine itself, but giving it its fizzy feel.

My friend Helen threw a post-Christmas party today and as I have never visited her spacious home in the country I decided to plunge into the slowsands of rush hour Beltway and after traversing half a circle on it at a dazzling speed of a continental drift, I was disgorged into Maryland back roads. The traffic drastically abated and the bright city lights were replaced by country shadows from which a reasonably skilled mathematician could deduce wilderness. After some trial and error exploring brought about by poor house numbering, I entered a dark and wooded driveway leading to a spacious house surrounded by cars.

I parked my little Honda by a mighty oak whose robustness was heralding the good old days when banks actually screened their mortgage applicants and house builders had a solid understanding of right angles. However majestic the house was, there was still no number on it nor any other indication that this was my rightful destination. The runway lights have a way of disappearing when you need them most. Doubts started to nibble on my mind. What if I am at a neighbors' house, I wondered. What would I say if I barged in on a big family reunion and had to explain my rose bouquet to a consortium of aunts and uncles in the middle of a home-made Cupcake Fest? Or worse, what if I entered a secret operative meeting of the Russian Mafia? I walked around the house for a bit, but haven't seen any signs of armed bodyguards, vicious dogs, brawny adherents of jujitsu or piercing laser beams. Concluding that the house is occupied by reasonably peaceful people, I entered.

There was no one in the hallway, but I heard muffled noises coming from the guts of the house and I pushed onward. The next room was half taken by a lavishly lit Christmas tree jammed with trinkets in a silent celebration of rush hour beltway and standing next to it was a Steinway piano which I ended up playing about three hours later. Encouraged by the fact that no one has shot me yet, I plodded on. The adrenaline rush injected into my blood stream made me briefly consider a career of a jewelry thief. This is how pilots must feel when they land in poor visibility conditions and just hope that the runway is actually there.

But two rooms later I ran into a well dressed elderly couple who confirmed that this was indeed my friend's residence and beckoned deeper into the maze of the house. The lights on the runway blinked on and all was normal again.

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