This whole process had gotten a little adrenaline going, and I thought to myself, Use this momentum. Move. Do something.

But what? Laundry? Shopping? Dull. I thought about just going for a walk or a drive. Then it hit me: Elasticland. Go down there and have a look around before they know who I am. Get a feel for the place. Ride some rides.

I headed into the kitchen to look for some food I could take with me. Pickings were slim: a quarter-loaf of French bread, some suspicious-looking cheese, a couple apples. I tossed them into a backpack. There was a Tupperware container in the freezer that, upon further inspection, contained some chocolate chip cookies. This was a little odd, but I grabbed them anyway; they’d be thawed by the time I was ready for them.

I put my boots on and headed for the car before my impetus could dissipate. Progress was slowed momentarily by the fact that I couldn’t quite remember where I’d parked, but in a few minutes I had it all sorted out and was heading down Broadway. It was a lovely sunny day, I got some Captain Beefheart going on the stereo, and by the time I hit the onramp, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I may even have whistled a little.

I love to drive. It’s one of the few times in life that I really, truly feel in control. The car makes you part of a community but also serves as a nice buffer zone between you and everyone else. I know it’s environmentally unsound and all, but they’ll take my car away when they pry my cold, dead hands off the wheel.

The directions were in the passenger seat but I did not need to consult them; the secretary’s sultry voice had burned them into my memory. As I began to descend the cloverleaf offramp, I saw Elasticland, its giant sign clearly readable even from a distance, and behind it the glittering sea.

I took one wrong turn that led me into a little detour, but before long I was winding my way up inside Elasticland’s gigantic parking structure. It was pretty close to full, but I finally found a spot on the top floor and took an elevator back down to ground level. The elevator had an attendant, if you can believe that—a fortyish, heavyset woman who looked none too happy to be cooped up in this fluorescent-lit box.

I emerged from the parking structure onto an expanse of asphalt, blinking in the sunlight. A hundred yards or so ahead was a gate dotted by a series of booths; people were lined up a dozen deep at each one. I stood for a minute having second thoughts about this whole enterprise. The crowd, the noise, the screaming children…I briefly considered going home and spending the rest of the day in a state of repose, but having come this far, the smart play seemed to be to go ahead and see it through. I started walking toward the entrance.