As the car drove into the outskirts of the city, Pip saw that many new houses stood in place of where the vast fields once had been. The cars that lined the streets were sleek and shiny, the streets themselves littered with garbage. As they drove deeper into the city and past the buildings, he realized they were taller than he remembered and with different signs attached to them, each flashier than the other. On every corner he saw a shop of sorts, named ‘Starbucks’, and in it were people who looked like they belonged in magazines. He glanced at his reflection in the glass of the car, he looked disheveled, his hair was much too long, and the end of his beard rested on his lap. After twenty minutes more, the kind stranger drove into his neighborhood, which looked almost exactly to how he remembered, but didn’t. The people were also unfamiliar. This street was his, but it wasn’t.
He looked back, in the distance he could see the Sierra Nevada’s, the street was Waterfield, he had stared at the sign as they passed it. This was his street, his house was approaching, but nothing made sense. Pip stood still after exiting the car, this had to be a dream, for he had only left yesterday, yet it seemed like many years had passed. Thanking the kind man for driving him home, he thought back to the pair of women who had shared with him their meal while in the forest. For it must have been magic! No other explanation made sense!
As he stood there, he was surprised his wife did not come out to greet him. Miss Elizabeth Jenkins always greeted him with a kiss and a smile on the doorstep of their home. However, no one exited the home, and as he payed closer attention he realized the fence was not the same. The curtains to the living room which has once been a pale lace, now were a dark slate color. Even their lawn was different, fake it seemed! It was his house but wasn’t.
He attempted to enter the house, but it was locked! Next to the door was a light up button with what seemed to be a camera. He pushed it repeatedly, but no one came to the door. Not his wife, nor his kids or his dog. No one was home, no one was there.
He hurried down the street to his favorite diner on the corner. However, the building that housed the diner was now a gas station! The price advertising the price per gallon at almost four dollars! Great God! On the sidewalk he spotted a newspaper box, he reached it quickly and saw that it cost twenty-five cents per paper! My lord!! Luckily, he carried a spare quarter in his pocket at all times and deposited into the slot. He reached in a pulled out the paper. The headline read “Mueller Report Released: President Trump Not Innocent Nor guilty”, underneath it read “How this will affect next year’s 2020 Presidential Elections”. He must have looked wild standing on the sidewalk with his eyes almost popping out of his head and a sense of devastation setting in. A younger man in athletic wear approached him “you alright man?” He turned to the newspaper in his hands, “Oh yeah, I read about that this morning”, “I was hoping this would be it, Trump has caused enough upheaval in the White House”.
Pip stared down, “but… but… last I recall Bill Clinton was President and he had been Impeached, Donald Trump had illusions of being President, but they were just rumors” The young man stared at him, “Uh… nah man, that was a long time ago, uh I got to go, here’s a dollar” and walked away muttering something about drugs. I sank down to the sidewalk, a plethora of emotions came to surface, but all I could thin was “what happened to my world?”
In my creative project I focused on Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle”, the section of the story where he returns and finds everything different. Pip Jenkins is a middle-class man who was living the American dream, a loving wife, two kids, and a perfect city home. Overwhelmed by his routine he takes a day trip to hike in Sequoia National Park, on this hike deep in the forest he encounters two older women, who very kindly invite him to have some of their stew. Next thing he knows he wakes up, to the bright sun, he crawls out of the dense bush, but when he goes to his car he realizes it is gone. He hitchhikes, and the man who picks him up drives him back to Fresno.
The world in the past twenty years has changed so much very rapidly. When Pip left it was 1999, the world’s population was about Six Billion. The world was preparing for the new millennium and mobile phones around the world were opening the world for many people. That year saw their very own presidential scandal with Clinton, and Trump was simply a very rich man with an aspiration to run one day. Fast forward to now, our President is a worldwide and continuous scandal, the planet is dying, and everyone seems to be entranced by social media and technology. Now more than ever, we are wrestling with our identities as “Americans”. Pip is what one would describe as the “perfect” American, and he has come into a society that seems to have a large disconnect with the word.
Whereas his wife used to greet him at the door warmly, present day he was greeted by a tech forward doorbell. The flowers that once were, had to be replaced by turf because of the drought. A mom and pop diner had been knocked down and replaced by a gas station. Lastly was his encounter with the young man, instead of attempting to listen to Pip, the man walked away condemning him as a drug addict. I made all these changes to emphasize the growing gap we have with others and nature. So much is happening, and although now more than ever we have more lines of communication, that disconnect is larger than ever. Our world is in turmoil, and we much like Pip seem to be sleeping through it, but one day it will hit us all at once.