I just got back from Vienna. There I was, strolling along the cobblestone streets listening to the sound of carriage horses’ hooves echo off the ornate façades of baroque palaces – and then suddenly I was back home dragging my suitcase along the dock where the floatplane had left me. As you can tell, I’m still suffering from travel whiplash. Even worse than the whiplash, I bumped into a friend and neighbor when I was collecting mail at the post boxes and the result was unsettling.
“Hi!” I said as though I hadn’t seen him in years.
“Hi,” he responded.
“I’m ba-ack!” I said triumphantly.
He looked blank. “Oh. Were you away?”
“Yes,” I said. “I went to Vienna.”
“The capital of Austria,” I prompted without success. “You know. Vienna – Europe?”
“That Vienna?” He regarded me cagily as though I was pulling his leg, like maybe I was joking. “No, you didn’t really.”
Well, that particular friend was always a bit strange. Still, I was perplexed. To begin with, it’s a sad reflection on my life that apart from my husband nobody really noticed that I had disappeared for two weeks. But what’s more, that sad, unsatisfactory little conversation almost made me doubt myself. Did I really go to Vienna or did I just dream that I did? To be sure, for a few nights after I arrived home I did indeed dream about Vienna. But before I dreamed of Vienna I went there didn’t I? Perhaps my overactive imagination made the whole thing up. Maybe that is why my neighbor seemed so uncertain. Maybe he’s not the strange one. Maybe I am. Because now that the trip is over how can I prove it?
The evidence is slim. I didn’t go with anybody. I travelled alone so there is nobody to corroborate my story. I don’t own a mobile phone or a digital camera so the whole time I was in Vienna I didn’t take a single picture. These things alone give rise to suspicion in most people’s minds. Moreover, the souvenirs I brought home were edible. The Mozart Kugeln, the Maria Theresia Taler and the Lebkuchen were for my husband and believe me, he made short work of them. They’re all gone.
I now feel a certain kinship with those people who claim they were kidnapped by aliens. They can’t prove it and nobody believes them. Yet they stubbornly stick to their stories. Well, I’m sticking to my story too. And bit by bit I’m going to tell it to you.