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Where Do We Go When We Disappear?

Whether it’s traveling to a place or staring into space, some of us go to some pretty weird lengths to zone out

Most everyone has that place they go to when they need to escape. For some people it’s a physical place — a beach, a garden, a tree. For others, the disappearance occurs within — a blank stare, a meditation, a prayer. For others still, it’s the inside of an imaginary submarine, as you’ll see from the MEL staff’s confessions of where we travel to when we’re trying to flee the real world.

Ian Lecklitner, Staff Writer: I never truly disappear (thanks, technology). But I occasionally attempt to space out on my couch until called upon by another email. During those brief moments of quiet, I escape to a simpler place: A life without deadlines and drama. Then I proceed to freak out, because that’s NOT my life. That’s when I either freak out more, or go to sleep. That counts as disappearing, right?

C. Brian Smith, Staff Writer: I’m a recovering drug addict. I used to escape by texting a Dominican named Dre who could make me disappear in less than an hour if traffic on the GW Bridge cooperated. Nowadays, my addiction is Bikram Yoga — 105 degrees, 26 postures. The penultimate is Camel, a total backward bend that cracks open your heart chakra like a coconut. Time stops. Eyes well up. You love everyone and everything, including yourself. For a few passing beats, all’s right with the world. Namaste.

John McDermott, Staff Writer: Well telling you would kind of defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? Nice try, though. You’ll never find me.

Jeff Gross, Social Media Editor: I go to the submarine I’m interior decorating — in my head. I love submarines, always have, always will. When I can’t sleep, that’s where I drift off to. It’s a Russian Typhoon, aka the boat from Hunt For Red October, and the biggest sub in the world. Basically, I imagine what it might look like if I was a rich asshole like Captain Nemo, and it was my Nautilus. Cost, habitability and actual seaworthy-ness are of no concern in this scenario. Regardless of how silly that may all sound, I’m asleep in seconds.

Andrew Fiouzi, Staff Writer: “We’ve lost him again.” Cue my blank face: I’ve successfully disappeared into a shallow abyss of absolute nothing and nowhere. It may appear in these moments as though I’ve disappeared into a well of deeper meaning, but really I’ve just lost touch with the current state of conversation, and rather than attempt to find my way back, I’ll slip into the image of whatever is in front of me — doorknob, windowpane, tree, light, nose, hair.

My only concern is that I don’t focus on someone’s face. That’s happened before — I’ll stare at a stranger with such ferocity that I’ll realize I’m making them very uncomfortable. Only then do I know that it’s time to come back from the gelatinous space of zero and re-enter the conversation about who’s going where, who’s fucking who and doing what, and of course, what I want to eat next.

Hussein Kesvani, Europe Editor: The bathroom, always. Something to do with ambient lights, a light monotone echo and also a place where people really would rather not want to find you. Can get a bit awkward when you’re at a party, though.

Nick Leftley, Senior Editor: It all depends where I am. If I’m in a boring meeting at work? Probably just casually reliving every stupid thing I’ve ever said in a meeting and regretting most of my major life decisions. Standing in line at the grocery store? Slipping into some puerile Die Hard-esque fantasy where I save the store from a terrorist attack using only my wits and a wobbly-wheeled shopping cart, and am rewarded by being told I can take whatever I want from the cheese counter. (When it gets really crazy, the deli meat counter, too.) I keep waiting for these moments of reverie to lead me to something enlightening, or at least useful, but so far, no such luck. The inside of my head is a depressingly dumb place.

Tierney Finster, Contributing Writer: I hit airplane mode on my phone and disappear regularly. Usually, I’m writing in a cafe without internet access, hitting up a bunch of Goodwill stores looking for iconic thrift finds or in bed avoiding any and all social pressure on a Saturday night. Other times, I’m smoking a joint in Malibu or Joshua Tree and scribbling an exhaustive inventory of my life onto Hello Kitty stationery, facing myself. I wish I was one of those people who ends up in places they never could have imagined while meditating, but I end up at the same place over and over again: Sitting on the edge of Point Dume in Malibu, feet dangling over the ocean, which, because this is my fantasy, has transformed to look pink and frothy like strawberry-chocolate milk.

Tim Grierson, Contributing Editor: I don’t go to church anymore, but when I was a kid, the element I liked most about mass was the idea that you were just present and mindful, and the rest of the world melted away. Movies are a kind of meditation like that, too. You have to give yourself over to them. When I’m in a theater, I feel myself shut down, which feels like disappearing. Part of me goes away, but some deeper part of myself is activated — a more sensitive, vulnerable aspect of my being. Nobody can find me, nobody can reach me — it’s just me and the movie I’m absorbing.

Tracy Moore, Staff Writer: When you have a child, as I do, and are in every way a responsible on-the-grid adult, there really is no such thing as disappearing anymore, only the illusion, and one it’s impossible to fully commit to. You must, at all times, for instance, have a phone nearby and accessible in case of emergencies. Be clear-headed and functional enough to jump in a car and drive wildly to an ER, or pick up a sick child in the middle of the day from school. You must be not so self-absorbed and escapist in mindset that you can’t stop what you’re doing at any given moment and be prepared to go six more rounds of Tenzi, or explain to a child why a boy at school said girls can’t play with Beyblades, or why frogs sound like that.

In a way, it’s gloriously liberating to be compelled to stay in these moments, and it’s taught me that it is in every way more valuable to spend your energy carving out the life that feels good to actually live in, rather than find the best way to bounce out of a more mediocre version you’ve resigned yourself to.

All that said, the backyard, with some chewable CBD.