This time I actually did go around shaking hands, grinning like some idiot politician. I think I may have high-fived someone. This is unlike me, but I was so elated at having come out of the darkness that I had forgotten myself. Which is nice.

My high had settled down nicely into a post-peak afterglow, and it occurred to me that a good smoke would really hit the spot. If only a had a cigar…and then I remembered that I did, in fact, have a box of cigars in my backpack that a thoughtful former self had placed there for just such an occasion.

After a moment’s rummaging I had the brown tin and a lighter in my hand, and I decided to offer a smoke to the handful of my fellow travelers still hanging around. A tall, bearded guy named Larry took me up on the offer, and we seated ourselves on one of the benches scattered around the meadow, which was set up like a pleasant little neighborhood park.

Larry, it turned out, was an Elasticland regular. He was on disability, he said, but once a year he blew a sizable chunk of money on a seasonal pass, which provided him with all the entertainment he needed.

“So what’s your favorite ride?” I asked him.

He frowned. “Um, we don’t really like to call them ‘rides.’ We say ‘experiences.'”

“OK…so what’s your favorite experience, then?”

His frown changed instantly into a big, sloppy grin. “Oh, the Heart of Darkness. Definitely.”

“What’s that?”

Larry’s smile became the sly smirk of an insider. “It’s a trip, man.”