Wani’s Journals, Day 2: Food Follies

Dearest Geiger,

Our second day of travels brings many experiences, some planned, some unexpected. I will try to recount some of them for you here.

We began our day in a spacious and inviting rental room, where once again the Chancellor was sluggish to rise. However, the gravest error was mine. I wear many hats on this voyage, from surveyor to documentarian and everything in between.

Perhaps chief among these duties, however, is the procurement of food. While we were instructed to make meal requests by midnight for the following day’s breakfast, I fear that in my inebriation I failed to carry out this most basic of tasks before retiring for the evening.

This led to a strained and embarrassing scene with our host, who politely explained our folly. Looking over, I saw the Duchess’s left eye begin to twitch, a sure sign she had taken offense to some perceived slight. However, before she could speak and potentially blow our cover, I interjected and rightfully accepted blame for our error.

Not two full days into our trip, and twice already our noble entourage has nearly been exposed. I fear the Chancellor and Duchess are not as in touch with the common folk as previously believed. That said, I am certain in their wisdom they will be able to adapt accordingly.

Taking our leave, we reconnected with the Duchess’s sister, the aforementioned Cultural Attache to Artists No One Has Heard Of, along with her manservant, who continued to impress us with his knowledge of Odnarotoop’s cultural history.

But first, official state business: Powell’s City of Books. If ever there was a nation in need of stories, the city block-sized Powell’s has them in abundance. In fact, within their walls, we found the works of three citizens of Chamandia.

Here, an aside. Many citizens of The Ham have observed a peculiar phenomenon upon living in our nation’s capitol for extended periods. The sensation is subtle at first, like the curious tendrils of a vine snaking up a terrace. Eventually, this feeling manifests itself in a distinct, but perhaps troubling thought.

Citizens describe the thought in different ways. However, the common thread appears to be an unshakeable feeling that nothing exists outside of The Ham——at least, no world worth noting. Residents have described this phenomenon as “Hamsterism,” and no immediate means of lessening or alleviating this feeling yet exists.

So imagine our surprise then, dear Geiger, to discover that a world outside The Ham indeed exists—a world that recognizes and celebrates the works of our capitol’s great literary minds.

What a time to be alive.

Next, at the suggestion of the Attache’s manservant, it was off to tea and various comestibles at Odnarotoop’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. I cannot say anything more about this feast that the enclosed image can’t say better.

Our meal adequately consumed and enjoyed, we once again boarded a train and headed south to the State of Cally Forny, destination: The Yo-se-mites.

On our journey, I gazed out the window and eavesdropped on a long conversation between two passengers, a traveling bicycler from Odnarotoop and a recently retired immigrant. Separated by age, nationality, and lived experience, the two nevertheless became fast friends during the long journey, sharing tales of their childhood, their careers, and their hopes for a better life.

Geiger, these are the moments we were meant to discover. The stories flowed easily and naturally. The camaraderie and trust were immediate. The meeting may have lasted but a moment in the grand scheme of their storied lives, but I doubt either will ever forget it.

As I write this, a great part of this grand continent is facing down a hurricane, with thousands losing their homes—and some their lives. Wildfires in other parts of the continent are producing similar results. And two belligerent dictators are pointing to their nuclear armaments and waiting to see who blinks first. Everywhere we look, whether from home or abroad, I see more questions than answers, more consequences than stories, and I feel helpless in the face of it all.

Seeing these two men didn’t change any of that. It didn’t answer any questions or provide a healing balm four our wounded lands and scattered psyches. It did remind me, however, that different stories are possible than the ones fill the mornings with over coffee.

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