The daydreaming thing was my brother’s fault. He went to Virginia Tech from 1970 to 1975. The fifth year wasn’t because he was dim; as an architecture major he was required to stay ten semesters. Sometime in that span, on one of our eight-hour family trips from New Jersey to drop him off or pick him up, my parents took me to Luray Caverns. I must’ve been about eleven years old.
God almighty! Who knew they kept all that stuff underground? I was agog! Great dripstone formations that looked like melting candles. Stalactites and mites the shades of fall vegetables and seashells. If Luray wasn’t exactly the hidden world I’d been looking for, it was something close: it was the key that freed my imagination from my own experience. (About three or four years earlier I’d sat straight up in bed one night, shaking from the sudden, unwished-for understanding that one day I would die and there would be no more me on earth. I understood this not only as a personal catastrophe but a tragedy for the world as well. What would it do without me? That moment, I think, paved the way for my imagination to gallop ahead of my life in the here and now. It prepared me for Luray.) Read More