Escapism - My Family Travels

0. Introduction.
You have begun thinking about college. Really, you should have done it much earlier. Half your friends planned to attend Yale at the ripe age of nine, when you didn’t even know what a university is. But now you seek scholarships. Writing has never been a strong suit, but you try to make the best of what limited ability you have.

In the meantime, you have traveled to Watkins Glen, NY; north of where you live in the city. Your mother finds a place called Quest Adventure Gaming ( offering escape rooms, wherein you are locked in a room and solve puzzles to exit. It’s an activity she has wanted to try for some time. You, your mother, your father, and your sister book a session and return the next day to do some puzzle-solving.

1. Enter.
The room is spaceship-themed, and the woman in the video, a war general, threatens to obliterate your ship if you finish the mission your crew was assigned. You must avoid death by escaping the vessel. You assume you will be doing a lot of solving; you are quite arrogant about your intellectual prowess.

(Actually, you’re quite arrogant about everything. Being praised as the “smart kid” in elementary school did wonders for your ego. Not that that’s necessarily a good thing.)

2. Explore.
Your father has no hope going in. With a distinct sense of his mortality, he would need a drink later to forget the feelings of stupidity the puzzle created. Ironically, you are also clueless as soon as you enter. So much for your quick wit.

(You can’t quite bring yourself to fully enjoy looking around either. It’s not that you don’t think it’s a neat experience, but you are preoccupied with the college dilemma and feel no excitement, only the paradoxical mixture of apathy and distress you are all too familiar with.)

3. Apply.
After finding many potential keys and codes, you start walking around to see where they work. Your mother ends up doing the heavy lifting, but you still have to ask the staff for innumerable hints. You hadn’t exactly agreed to this; even though hints are allowed, even encouraged, it feels like cheating. Begrudgingly, you admit that it helped, especially given the one-hour time limit, but you can’t help feeling guilty over needing assistance.

(Your mind is still stuck on school. It’s terrifying to think about going to college. Everyone says that if you think you have it bad now, you won’t even make it through freshman year, and you don’t doubt them. Jobs are even more intimidating. Who would trust you with a job? You wouldn’t trust you with a butter knife. And to decide the course of your entire career over the next three years? Everyone keeps saying high school is a lot of time to decide, but it doesn’t feel like it.)

4. Exit and Return Home.
You retreat to the bathroom to write. You had planned to discuss the escape room, but, after staring at your blank notebook, realize you can barely remember it. Even the grand, door-opening puzzle at the end is lost. Frustrated, you bang your head on the toilet cover you’ve been using as a tabletop and decide to put on some music. Bon Jovi starts in your earbuds. Whoa-oh, living on a prayer…

(You almost snort. How appropriate.)

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