I fondly remember being with my nephew, sitting around a campfire under the stars on a Russian plain with colorful people singing songs, sipping dark tea…
…in our imaginations, of course. We were actually sitting in a comfortable booth at a local tea shop inhaling the deep intoxication of Russian Caravan tea.
My nephew is an adult, and one of my favorite people to hang out with. We both find it all too easy to let reality become a backdrop to more exciting pursuits that exist in our minds. Together, we can get carried away. One day, the smell of smokey tea took us to another dimension.
It all started innocently enough: my kids had an event far from home, and I decided I would hang out in the little town of Ballston Spa while waiting. I asked my nephew if he was free to keep me company for the afternoon. He was, we dropped the kids off, and parked the car near a little stream.
There was a splash and we jumped. Something swam in the water, but we couldn’t make it out.
We yelled and ran away into the parking lot of an old, crumbling, brick factory. Exploring the outside with rusted doors, strange windows, and odd metal lying about made my nephew think of post-apocalyptic video games. The more he described what could be lurking, the more jittery we became. A siren wailed and we freaked and bolting across the street into a small bowling alley.
Unfortunately, he said there is always a bowling alley in zombie games. We didn’t last long with suspicious looks from the locals. Back on the sidewalk, my nephew and I continued our search for a safe haven from impending doom, and found The Whistling Kettle. Cute, warm shops apparently don’t fit into shooting games, so our imaginations took a pleasant turn into the world of tea.
It was a busy place and we wouldn’t be seated for a bit. They had a sniffing bar with dozens of little jars to smell their vast selection. We opened them, inhaled, had strong opinions, comparing and exclaiming over the variety. And then I found Russian Caravan. It hit my nose like a movie trailer, encompassing my attention.
“Peter, check this one out…it’s…it’s like a…”
“Whoa. I’m suddenly around a campfire!”
We grinned and couldn’t stop taking strong whiffs, happy drug addicts. Finally seated, we ordered a pot of the stuff. Strong! Smokey! In the words of my dad, “It’ll put hair on your chest!” Every sip added to our excitement and the shop faded into a Russian night sky, campfire smoke around us and our fellow travelers.
When was the last time you spent time changing the real world into something from your imagination? Were you six? I highly recommend you try it again. It’s better than a book, movie, or video game, especially when shared with someone equally willing to go along for the ride.
Grab a friend, spouse, kids, and take a whiff of something new, floating into your own collective fantasy escape.