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When I was about 5 or 6 years old, it must have been just before I entered (elementary) school, I packed my suitcase and I left home.

For about an hour.

Jan and I decided to make our way to the other realm; we would find and cross the magical portal, which would take us to the other side, to a fantastical world, where we would finally meet the Quiesel.

Fantasy is an amazing thing. We came up with the most delirious of stories and wholeheartedly believed them, until one of the grown-ups would come and snap us out of it again. ‘The portal’ was one of those ideas, giving us hope to escape reality to wherever we wanted. We had to find it. We were obsessed.

I had packed a suitcase that day. I grabbed the largest of them from the top of my closet and filled it with underwear and socks. I didn’t think I needed much else. Did the other realm provide outerwear for free? Then Jan came over to pick me up. There was no time to bid anyone adieu, so we were on our way. We walked down the little road towards the edge of the village, crossing grandma’s house on the way. We may have even waved at her as we crossed the cobbled street. She would always stand by the window and peak through the net curtains to keep watch of the of the neighbourhood, ever so honourably. We continued to walk, gardens on our left and right, sloped through a wheat field or two, and crossed a large meadow.

I quickly tired from schlepping my large leather suitcase across the hilly countryside and so we stopped to rest. Jan had packed light, but luckily his rucksack contained food, which I didn’t think to bring along. I must have thought we would find some on our way. Surely an adorable little cafe run by unicorns would appear behind the next hill, or at the very least a gas station.

We sat and talked and imagined what life would be like on the other side of the portal. We both knew the portal didn’t really exist, but it was fun to dream about living in another world, filled with magical beings, where anything is possible.

Much more practically minded than I, Jan also wore a watch and reminded me that we would need to return home for dinnertime soon. “Treason!” I thought. We had made a pact to leave the little village behind us and discover a whole new world, and now my compadre suddenly suggested we abandon our plans just to put our parents at ease? I was confused. I had packed a suitcase after all.

I wasn’t at all unreasonable however, ready to come to a compromise. I confessed that maybe we’d never find the magical portal, maybe we wouldn’t even meet the Quiesel. But what about walking to the next biggest town and starting a new life there. We could both find work, move into a nice apartment, live the life of our dreams? I was driven to leave and make it big elsewhere, and nobody was going to stop me.

About an hour later and we were back at home. The suitcase was back on top of the closet and we sat at my parent’s dinner table with our faces deep in a platter of mama’s delicious open sandwiches.