Where she goes
For the sake of being thorough, I have to mention that I actually have 3 happy places: a solitary, fully functional, a family one, for specific weather needs, and a tropical one I haven't developed a lot yet. Which one I visit depends on my mood or whatever needs I have on that particular night, but I think the solitary has gotten the most usage.
The solitary is an igloo. It sits atop a hill somewhere in a Polar landscape, and although I make it a point that there is absolutely no one around for miles (human or animal), I can see a small settlement in the valley below. I never go there, but I guess it gives me comfort to know I could if I wanted to. I always imagine there's a strong wind, but my igloo entrance is always set sheltered from it, so I can hear it howl, but it doesn't blow inside. The igloo is small - I don't know if you know this, but the smaller an igloo is, the warmer it is inside. And it's cold out here. Really cold. That's what gives me so much comfort, in the end: finding insanely cozy shelter in a crazy hostile environment and knowing I'm perfectly safe because there's no one else there. I like imagining what I'm wearing, layer by layer. That's usually what I do first thing when I come here, as the landscape is already quite well established in my head and I see the geography as soon as I arrive. I start with a thermal onesie and a normal pair of socks. I then add a turtleneck, thick sweatpants and sport socks. Next, sweater and thick knit woollen socks. The last layer on top is a full-body ski costume, warm but light (remember it has to be comfy, I come here to sleep), woollen booties with a soft sole and a soft balaclava that is then covered by the ski costume's hoodie. There's gloves too, proper ski ones. I usually proceed by imagining how it feels just laying there, how warm I feel, how the wind sounds, how odd it is that I feel so good in such an unwelcoming place. I never imagine anyone else in here. I'm always alone. Please don't come. Actually I'm starting to question why I wrote all this down. Will it corrupt the integrity of the place? I really hope not, I guess I'll find out tonight.
The second happy place, the family one, is a cabin in the woods. Actually "cabin" isn't the right word - more like a one-room shack, because Timo and I built it. Here it's always autumn and always raining. There's not much in it, our bed, Fiona's crib and to be honest I haven't worked on the rest of the furniture yet. I do imagine the technical aspects of the shack though, that's my favorite part - they have to be something I could realistically help build, this is very important. It's usually built out of thin tree trunks, although I sometimes like to make it sturdier. There's a sloped roof, so rain pours off of it easily, and our windows are brutally-cut holes in the wall structure covered by large woven branch slates - if we want the windows open they have to be lifted outside and propped on sticks, but they are so long that the rain still pours off them harmoniously, not abruptly. I'm sure Timo would find some more sophisticated solution, but this is my happy place. Here we usually just lay in bed, holding each other, listening to the rain fall and to Fiona sleeping in her crib right next to our bed. Sometimes she's in bed with us - other than afternoon naps and special occasions we avoid this, she only sleeps in her room, so this is a treat.
I wish I could understand why it makes me feel so good to imagine I'm in this frail, hand-made structure in hostile weather (the igloo is quite similar if you think about it) and yet feel so safe and content. Maybe it's a primal thing. There are two moments from my childhood (the real one) that might explain my fondness for this kind of existence. One, stealing potatoes from my grandma's pantry and going outside with the neighborhood kids and cooking them on small fires we built. When I was growing up, you could get away with stuff like this. It obviously wasn't about eating those potatoes, it was about us providing sustenance for ourselves, feeling so powerful because we were feeding ourselves "in the wild". Stealing the potatoes might have cancelled some of that "ourselvesness", but we didn't care. It's not like we had time to grow them. Two, being caught in heavy rain while trekking in the mountains behind our country house with my parents and my brother and our dog and taking shelter in a suspended hay barn. I have very vivid memories of that experience and it is one of the purest moments of happiness in my life. The sneaking onto someone else's property, the feel and smell of the hay we lay on, the comfort and the stillness, the sound of the rain and the fact it was just us, the togetherness of the moment. It was perfect.
My third happy place, I don't really know why I keep pushing it on myself. It's supposed to be a hammock on a beautiful beach, sound of waves, maybe a nice drink in hand. Not sure if alone or not. I'm having trouble getting into this one, I always seem to start and I lose interest quite fast which is crazy because I'd love to transport myself in that scenario, even right now. I'll probably keep working on it. We'll see.
I have no idea why I felt the need to put all this down, since it's something very personal. I wonder if it will feel weird now I know other people know about it. And one last note: this is not a work of fiction.