I like to think of myself as a professional tourist. For a
number of months out of the year, my wife Miriam and I travel, then blog about
On our most recent trip, we were driving along a road when we
saw a sign which read Welcome to The Village of Belonging. Driving
through the town, we were greeted by the inhabitants of the village, all
wearing similar outfits. As suggested by our tourist guidebook, we decided to
strike up a conversation with the locals. Happening upon a group of women with
strollers, we talked about the weather, local points of interest, and found it
all to be quite pleasant.
Looking at a nearby field, we saw a group of people in red and
orange tunics running around as white-suited attendants chased after them with
butterfly nets. The scene seemed hallucinatory, but we had not taken any drugs
at all, except for the cholesterol-inhibiting statin Miriam ingested with her
white wine at dinner the night before. The wayward people were eventually
captured by the attendants, and put into a white van. Seeing the nets reminded
me that observation of monarchs and their migration patterns was part of our
travel agenda, and I excavated the butterfly identification book from a pocket
of my khaki cargo pants for future reference. I enjoy butterfly watching, and I
assume that Miriam does too.
I wonder who those people were, said Miriam.
Apparently fugitives from the nuthouse, I replied,
while checking my butterfly identification book for species indigenous to the
We continued along in our rental car, looking forward to viewing
the recommended scenic points of interest. A number of white vans passed by in
the other direction as we approached the next town, seeing the sign:
Welcome to The Village of Non-Belonging. We saw a man who was
standing in the middle of the street, wearing a purple triangular hat.
Hello, thats an interesting hat youre wearing, I said.
Well sir, we are the Village of Non-Belonging, and
were known for our eccentricities.
What are all the white vans for? asked Miriam.
Well, you see, said the man, When a person in
the Village of Belonging does not fit in, that person is captured with a
butterfly net, put in a white van, and sent here to the Village of
Non-Belonging, to be among his or her own kind. What we have seen though, is
that so many people are being sent to the Village of Non-Belonging that it
becomes the Village of Belonging, and what was formerly known as the Village of
Belonging becomes the Village of Non-Belonging, and so on.
So all the white vans are needed to shuttle these people
back and forth? asked Miriam.
Yes, said the man. The main industry in the
area is the maintenance and operation of the white vans. In my opinion,
its all a conspiracy by the van operators and gas stations in the area. A
But people are complex, they cant simply be
classified as Belonging or Non-Belonging, Miriam
Oh, those people go to the Village of Ambiguity,
replied the man, In a beige van.
A white van pulled up, and the people in red and orange tunics
got out. These were the ones wed seen earlier. They ran into a field and
began bouncing up, down and around in playful unison. I turned toward Miriam,
and saw that she was running into the field to join the lunatics. Miriam,
what are you doing?! I yelled.
This is where I belong, she said simply, running
into the field.
I was stunned, looking at my wife of 11 years frolicking with
the lunatics. I didnt realize that Miriam had always felt lonely, wanting
to belong. Shed put so much energy into trying to belong, that it sapped
her energy and soul. Miriam, this is so unlike you, I feel as if
Ive never really known you! I exclaimed.
Exactly, she said.