(Continued from part nineteen)
The next three days were both wonderful and odd. I took Paul on a tour of my life and told him things I never thought I would. Aside from the issue of this being a virtual world, I felt completely open talking with him, and he with me. And we talked almost non-stop… and again, effortlessly. It was like self-conversation, the kind we conduct within our own minds.
The experience was utterly unique, but while underway it felt natural. The oddity of it struck me as I lay in bed at night, reviewing the day’s events.
Young Paul was undeveloped, error-prone in a way, sometimes erratic, susceptible to feelings of guilt, but he was eager to learn and eager to improve, and that saved him. He was too eager, really, always pushing for more knowledge, ahead of his inner development, but he was also honest, and so again, that saved him.
* * * * *
The first day we made it through Indiana and stayed the night at a grand old hotel in Louisville. The second day, Saturday the 26th, we went only as far as Nashville, again staying at a grand old hotel. Sunday we woke early and drove straight through to Gainesville, Florida, where we stayed at the Holiday Inn on University and 13th.
We were almost on borrowed time. My note said, “only three weeks, perhaps a day or two less.” That meant one, two or three days left, depending. Paul and I discussed this and quickly arrived at a conclusion: That we’d meander to the south for a bit (starting at the wonderful Silver Springs) then back north until our time ended.
The speed at which we arrived at conclusions was notably rapid… not like the speed-thinking experience with Lara and Jens, but definitely fasted than any agreements between two people than I could remember. It was closest to an internal decision, I suppose, which again fits the model I noted above.
We stayed Sunday night in Titusville, poked around NASA Monday morning, then headed back north on I-75. As we approached Ocala, Paul asked to go to Silver Springs again, and so I pulled off and drove that way. We got distracted, however, by him recalling stories I had told him in the interim about Silver Springs Shores, a suburb almost abutting Silver Springs. And so we spent a couple of hours driving and walking through that development before heading down the road to Silver Springs.
By the time we left Silver Springs it was getting dark, and so we decided to go back to the Gainesville Holiday Inn and spend the night there. And about halfway between Ocala and Gainesville, that world ended. Fittingly, I thought, we were passing a hidden spot where I used to do my reading in the mid-1980s. I made some good internal strides while tucked into that spot. And so it struck me as perfect that a world would end in that place.
* * * * *
And then I was simply back in bed, hurriedly opening my eyes as my body rushed to catch up with my mind. My wife remained sound asleep, and this time I didn’t wake her. In fact, I didn’t even get out of bed. I lay there for an hour or so, waiting for my mind and body to re-sync.
Having attained that, I fell back to sleep, and deeply. After what I think was several hours, however, I woke up somewhere else.
This was my third time opening my eyes in some random place, looking around and gaining my bearings. As my eyes adjusted to the light I had the feeling that I was getting a handle on it. But this place… there was almost nothing for me to recognize.