August is the season of escape. Certain New Yorkers go to the Hamptons or the Cape or Fire Island. Others go to Brooklyn Heights for a Coney Island of the mind. And if you're like me, you take the A train to Far Rockaway and dream that it is farther than it is. The skyscrapers disappear with a blink, and you rebel when the Parks Department whistle blows at six p.m., staying in to catch one more last wave, and one more after that.
So with escape on the brain, it's a short hop to thinking about our desire to escape from the brain and into an alternate vision of self, that desire that propelled me at age 15 through the doors of Pier One in a dream of the exotic, at age 25 through the doors of ABC Carpet & Home in a dream of the bohemian, at age 35 through the doors of DWR in a dream of the sophisticated, as though by buying those things I could be them.
Here's a mini-roundup of writing in that spirit:
"No matter where you go, there you are." --Thomas a Kempis and Buckaroo Banzai "The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
with unreality" --Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "A Coney Island of the Mind"
"I can see no way out but through--Leastways for me..." --Robert Frost, "A Servant to Servants"
"Tell me: surrounded by those casual lies fabricating with disarming aplomb, why didn't I ask whose escape I imagined I was fashioning?" --Mark Halperin, "The Escape"