What is your chill vibe?
November 10, 2019 12:42 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to know what environment/mindset really resonates with you--is there an awesome place in your head that may or may not exist in reality that really ticks your boxes re: safety, comfort, relaxation, and empowerment? Do you know why it resonates with you? And if not have you considered it? As much detail as you're comfortable giving is welcome. Example inside if this is abstruse; I guess it's sort of like the idea of a "happy place" but specific.

I'm working on a creative project and need insight into specific or archetypal situations/scenarios/climates really put you at ease and feel like the best possible place at any time to be. Absolutely does not have to be real. Let me provide an example: We rewatched the X-Files recently (I was very young when it was initially airing) and I realized seeing a few episodes back in grade school had created a sort of fauxvironment in my head. I've been mulling over it for a few weeks and at some point, probably in dreams when I was little, I must have pastiched an ideal desert landscape.

Something about flowing sugar-sand, Joshua trees, dry air, untouchable cacti, and wind-weathered rocks under piercing blue skies feels irrationally homey, tranquil, and borderline mystical (but...aliens mystical). There's a deep sense of freedom and empowered isolation, and something magical about things like succulents thriving (where here on the east coast they need nursing). Of course, my actual desire to be there in real life would probably end about 20 minutes in; somehow it's almost the hostility itself that is endearing. And until a recent trip to the west coast, I'd never even seen it in person! But I almost want to make a little terrarium that makes the paradoxically comfortable image in my head real. I'm surprised (and a little bemused) by how fully-formed and evocative the idea is.

So if you could make a...soul terrarium(?) for yourself, what would it be and look like?
posted by Phyltre to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (35 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
I hope this is what you are looking for, so here goes: Sometimes, I imagine hitting a huge lottery, and being able to purchase an abandoned old home, near a harbor, on the coast of Maine, and painstakingly restoring it. It would have an attached barn, a greenhouse, and hidden wonders built in that would be delightful to find. There are wildlife abounding in my property (which is multi acres). I'll also have a boathouse and a lovely view of a busy harbor and fishing village.

I get in great details when I think of this place, and I feel calm and centered. I can see the big trees and the meadow grasses in my mind. I can see the snowfall and imagine the crisp air. It's my go-to place when I need to stop thinking about other things.
posted by annieb at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Being inside a warm, cozy, quiet place where you can hear and see that it’s raining outside. Warm lighting, soft clothes, a clean and tidy space filled with old but nicely-taken-care-of wood furniture and comfortable chairs and couches, ideally a wood-burning fireplace, no drafty windows, maybe a nice cup of coffee, cinnamon sugar toast, definitely a couple old sleepy dogs and a good book with me. And maybe having it be in a city I’ve never been to before where I’m there on leisure, so I have no place I need to go or people I need to see.

That or sitting out on the beach in the morning quiet and watching the ocean roll in and out.
posted by sallybrown at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2019 [15 favorites]


My ideal landscape (which I've fortunately been able to spend some real life time in) involves mountains, rivers, and lots and lots of trees. I always picture them in full summer green but also love the looks that come with all the seasons. Essentially Washington State but with New England quality fall colors. In my imagined world, transportation is not an issue so I can enjoy an imaginary life in nature without all the issues that I have to deal with in real life (my poor eyesight which is why I can't drive).
posted by acidnova at 1:02 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mine is a tall apartment building that looks both at the sky and at other apartment windows, and has a window seat in which to sit and look out at these things. For me it comes from an episode of Sesame Street I saw, or imagined I saw, as a kid, but also some hotels I've stayed at have had this quality.
posted by xo at 1:18 PM on November 10, 2019


I am not the world's best sleeper or relaxer. I have an image in my head about an ideal sleep/relax place which is not real (and in fact sort of can not exist) which is maybe something I saw once or just built in my head.

Basically it's a big metal bed in the middle of an incredibly deep forest (Pac NW style, very tall trees, lots of moss) and it's piled high with blankets and pillows. I am in that bed, hearing the forest noises, I have a pile of books, decent lighting and my softest pajamas (maybe a warm cup of tea). It's a little cold, the bed is warm. I read until I fall asleep.
posted by jessamyn at 1:20 PM on November 10, 2019 [8 favorites]


I've done this thing since I was a very little kid: I get in bed, cover my entire body with blankets, tuck the blankets taut over why head so I'm fully encapsulated in a blanket-womb. My mind variously puts me either deep underground, stationary under tons of rock, or deep in space, surrounded by the void. Inside the little blanket-womb, I can get to 100% comfort in just a few minutes, mentally toying with the image and feeling of this little cocoon alongside seams of iron and quartz or silently hurtling through the universe. My mom would listen to Hearts of Space with me when I wasn't feeling well, and I'm pretty sure that's the soundtrack that brought these mind spaces into being. When Björk started making music, it really resonated with my underground schema (omg Joga).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:25 PM on November 10, 2019 [7 favorites]


I have more than one.

For me the common threads seem to be warmth, open skies, and isolation. I want to be far from human concerns. Most frequently, I end up imagining the Sahel on a warm summer night - the skies, the stars. Sometimes I imagine tropical beaches. Sometimes I go far out and imagine an alien landscape.

The Sahel one sometimes comes with people. There's a certain style of Malian blues that I find very relaxing, and I sometimes imagine that instead of being out alone, I'm sitting near enough an open-walled bar that I can hear someone playing, and people hanging out. But I'm still sitting outside and able to see the sky.

Importantly, I have nothing at all that I have to be doing in this scenario.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:31 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


Mine is similar to sallybrown’s— a warm, tidy, cozy room with a window looking out on nature. Many bookcases filled with books, a soft, comfortable overstuffed chair, the scent of something delicious cooking, some sort of snack, a cat in my lap and a book in my hand. No plans or deadlines ahead. Reading for awhile and then drifting off into a nice nap. Repeat.
posted by bookmammal at 1:33 PM on November 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


A luxurious hotel room -- it has a big comfortable bed, a nice bathtub, a good view of the city. I can just stay in, wear pajamas, drink wine, watch whatever terrible things on TV I want and not be responsible to anyone. Maybe I'll order room service or just go get take out somewhere. I can hide out in a place that feels homey but isn't home. It's a perfect capsule life.
posted by darksong at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


Whenever I'm feeling upset, overwhelmed, or otherwise just kinda nasty, I like to imagine myself in the future -- like, five years from now when I could hypothetically (but probably won't) have my life together. It's just very comforting to believe that, no matter how messy things are in this current moment, life has the potential to become better. It's an optimistic approach, if not a little chimerical.

In my future, I like to imagine that I've just gone for a very long run outside, so my limbs have that delightful numb achiness that usually follows physical activity. I've showered and I've just started using a new shampoo, so I can actually smell the scent in my hair. I'm curled up on my bed, and there's a golden retriever dozing next to me. The ceiling fan in whirring overhead and Bon Iver or something is playing quietly in the room. Maybe it's raining outside, or maybe it's a warm night and the crickets are out. Maybe there's a candle burning on the bedside table, and maybe there's someone in the kitchen who is kindly making dinner (something very heavy in carbs and utterly irresistible). There are no appointments, obligations, or distractions. It's just a quiet, simple moment in time.

That's where I go whenever life gets to be too much. It's not real, and perhaps it never will be -- but, at least its nice to escape to.
posted by NewShoo at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


small mediterranean port town where life is mostly slow and quiet. i have a small but airy apartment with a plant-filled terrace overlooking the sea. it's sunset. i have a fat cat on my lap. an out of sight neighbor is playing tárrega's capricho árabe and noodling with it gently. my biggest responsibility is deciding what to make myself and the fat cat for dinner. it might be reservations, which is fine. the cat doesn't mind. my flesh prison is functioning properly and my political enemies are dead.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:11 PM on November 10, 2019 [16 favorites]


What a great question! Mine are a bit unusual, but it seemed like there was something beautifully eerie about your example, so that's what I'm going for.

1. Folksy creepy can be nice and comforting. Aesthetically: some combination of Gothic Southern, Wuthering Heights, and Where the Wild Things Are. There's a certain austere folkiness, and ironically if it's dark enough there can be a biblical element that makes it especially comforting. For natural imagery I'd pair it with dark woods, swampland, ravens, and sleepless midnight ramblings where you might expect to encounter melancholy poltergeists. Old relatives are buried by the side of the house. Maybe there's a stray cat. The days may be nice and the living may be good, but somehow everything lacks color and there's a sense of doom or damnation in the air. It's relaxed, though: there are no jump scares. Theme: Timber Timbre's Patron Saint Hunter.

Why would all this be comforting? I don't know; maybe think dark fairytale landscape.

2. Sparse geometric landscapes: a dark infinite space where you can watch curves and shapes meander around, and watching the math happen like a dance instead of forcing it out of chicken scratches. I don't know how best to explain it, but these videos might give you a sense of what I mean: 1 2 3. Nice and spacey, and almost monastic, with no hint of the material world.

3. Fast and Furious! Not that I condone it, but -- imagine driving fast, slightly drunk and very sleepy, hurtling through curving freeway channels cut from a concrete landscape of road, like the arterial maze of some giant urban beast. The only real light is from a series of ethereal sodium lamps and whatever your headlights may provide. The growl of your engine echoes from the asphalt and concrete barriers into a metallic howl. I don't know if it ticks the "safety" checkbox, but at some point you feel kind of teenage-invincible which is quite powerful. Similar is the feeling I get when I'm in a plane careening down the runway for takeoff: nothing will stop us now; there's nothing I can do but let the speed take over. It's oddly very relaxing.

(My positive association with all this probably comes from the feeling I'd get as a kid, being picked up from some evening function and leaning sleepily -- happily -- against the car window as I was ferried some long distance home. You felt the rhythmic breaks in the asphalt echo in your bones; you watched shadows from passing street lamps moonwalk across the backseat. And you fell asleep to the lullaby of the engine and the eternally rolling wheels.)

4. There's a comfortable mood that certain electronic music generates, which is very hard to put into words; I think any kind of sci-fi comfort you might be able to find would get you close. If you listen to anything like this -- could be dubsteppy, could be chill-hoppy, could be house-y, I don't know -- maybe you can put a finger on it. Two songs that come to mind are Blackmill's Let It Be and Eskmo's Lands and Bones. I can try to elaborate on this further but you will probably have more luck thinking about music that you already have a relationship with.

5. Closer to home: old smoke-filled clubs. Cards slapped on tables, hoarse laughter, clinked glasses, snippets of cursing and flirting, threats and taunts and warm greeting, cheap cigarillos and whiskey vapor, (saw)dust kicked off the floor, oh my. I don't know why it's so comforting -- maybe it's the ritual and intimacy and the willful gathering, like a herd at the riverbank or campers around the fire.
posted by miniraptor at 2:16 PM on November 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


I couldn’t live there for more than a year but I used to vibe out just finding a cafe in Chicago and being as far away from everyone I knew as possible (before I lived there). My creativity exploded and I was just...calm and more myself. It felt more like home than any home I’ve had.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:25 PM on November 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


This is superduper basic of me, but a spa. Last night I had a mild anxiety attack in the middle of the night and my happy place to combat it was actually a real place I've been: the Bota Bota spa in Montreal, at sunset, in winter. The sauna has a window that looks out on Montreal's skyline. The hot tub has a view of the St Lawrence River and Habitat 67. In either location, I'm warm, comfortable, relaxed, and know that outside my cocoon it is cold and snowy. It is quiet and if there are any other people there they are unobtrusive and only speaking in ASMR whispers, possibly in French so I can't really understand anyway.

The knowledge of how cold it is outside is key. In reality, I want to go back and take my husband maybe for our anniversary, but that's in May and it won't be quite as cold as it was when I went by myself last year in March and this bums me out slightly.
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:27 PM on November 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


What a nice-to-think-about question, thanks for asking!

My locus amoenus is a real place, the playground in the neighbouring village opposite a lovely little church, surrounded by woods and pastures, the destination of a short pilgrimage I like to do ever so often when I can find the time, because it has a little free public library. I used to go there as kid with my grandpa, to gather chestnuts and ride the carousel, or with my mum, for the may devotions, and now I come for the books. My village has its own free public library, but the neighbouring village has better taste in literature.

Whenever I go there, I feel perfectly at peace, but it's probably the cumulative effect of the walk that takes me there, leading me through the wood, past the disused quarry, where I also like to make a little stop. I love the wood and the way the trees are like pillars in a cathedral, but I'm sticking pretty much to the well-marked paths; I have a healthy respect for real wilderness.

My mum has a good one too - I recently asked her about her favourite memory of her own mother, and she told me how as a kid she used to do steam inhalations when she had a cold and her mum used to read her fairy tales, which was just the perfect combination, because the vapor smelt of pines, and the pine-scent really enhanced the whole fairy tell vibe. So whenever my mum smells pines now, it takes her back to two places at once, the fairy tale wood of her imagination, and the kitchen of her childhood home, with her mom taking care of her.
posted by sohalt at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Folksy creepy can be nice and comforting.

Oh right, my indoor place is basically like this. Imagine an old falling-down-looking but structurally sound house in the middle of absolutely nowhere. The weather is cool but clear. It's slightly warmer indoors than outdoors. There's a wood stove which you can crank up and a super comfy giant couch with a bunch of blankets, decent lighting for reading and maybe a cat or seven. My partner is there and he is napping. There's some indistinct music playing in the background, either ambient murmurings, or some sort of celtic somethingorother. There are candles going.
posted by jessamyn at 2:38 PM on November 10, 2019


this is a very nice and soothing question and i hope everyone gets their happy places
posted by poffin boffin at 2:54 PM on November 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


I have a membership to the Missouri Botanical Garden and I will take a book with me to the Climatron in winter.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:35 PM on November 10, 2019


Also trains, trains are so great! Having the whole compartment to yourself on a long train ride, settling down with a good book, enjoying all sorts of landscapes rushing past. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nobody to talk to (can I call you back later? the connection is so bad, all these tunnels...) and still going somewhere. I usually end up doing not all that much reading even, because I never feel bad just looking out of the window. Going home for Christmas, and coming out of the tunnel, plunged into a white world, suddenly snow on the other side of the mountain.

And little regional trains too, chugging along more leisurely, they have their special charms; I'm thinking Studio Ghibli style, that train in Spirited Away that goes over the ocean. The train I take every morning to commute to work is a little bit like that, it doesn't go over the ocean, but past fields, which are the next best thing, if you ask me. Like the water landscape in Spirited Away, the fields stretch out - not quite as far as the eye can see (my home is a bit more densly populated), but enough to make things feel sufficiently roomy. Not too much to distract from the spectacle of the sky. I like how the train glides through the silence in the darkness before sunrise when I get on it in the morning, into the darkness when I go home, I like to think of the vastness outside the window - it makes me think of an Eichendorff poem (and my soul spread her wings out wide, flew across the silent lands, as though flying home - when I picture my soul flying, I always picture it flying over fields).

That train scene in Spirited Away is my favourite part of the movie, even though, maybe precisely because it's so eery. I mean, the other passengers are faceless, the little house on those islands are so lonely, so completly dwarfed by the surrounding emptiness, our heroine doesn't know what lies beyond, doesn't know what will expect her at the end of her journey. And yet the scene feels with the strangest sense of peace, maybe because the ocean reminds me of fields, and the farmhouses remind me of home, and maybe because I sometimes almost like a bit of uncertainty, the feeling that the world is too vast for me to ever fully explore.
posted by sohalt at 3:45 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Mine is a cavernous bright orange room with a lot of stone/concrete, preferably Brutalist. I know of two places like this, the basement of the Barbican Centre in London and the library at the Yale architecture school. Both calming and invigorating.
posted by acidic at 3:48 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


After my dog died, I spent a lot of time trying to imagine what a suitable heaven for dogs would be like, and I thought it would be exactly like life here with me, but better. A parallel life that he's living until we're together again. I would be there, because of course heaven for a dog wouldn't be heaven without their person. But that me would be able to spend the whole day with him, in a cozy house with wide floorboards and a pine table and a slipcovered chair and a big fireplace, where he would doze while I read next to him. And then we'd go for a walk through endless fields and gardens and woods, and he could always be off leash, and there would be no dangers or annoyances--no cars or motorcycles or coyotes or bobcats. Sometimes there would be some friendly dogs for him to race around with, but mostly it would be just the two of us, walking, then going home for a cup of tea and a nap by the fire. That's my cozy place, this home in heaven with my dog.

Very nice question. Thank you.
posted by HotToddy at 3:58 PM on November 10, 2019 [9 favorites]


This is the best question ever. Most of these sound wonderful.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is a place I've imagined before that's similar to some real places I've been but isn't a specific real place. It's in the mountains of the western US, high enough to have a spectacular view of valleys and plains below me and other mountain ranges beyond that, but with higher mountains above and behind me. I'm on the side of a mountain, not at the top, in a pleasant meadow with scattered trees and big rocks, dotted with wildflowers. There might be sagebrush. It's a somewhat dry area, but there's a lush feeling to it also, a a moderate western dry-climate lushness. It's spring or early summer, just the right temperature to enjoy the sunshine without being too hot or too cold. It's not exactly a remote wilderness. I can probably see some small towns and roads in the distance far below. But I'm not on a trail and there is no one else around. I'm completely alone (except for maybe a dog.) There's nothing to worry about, nothing I have to do, no one to bother me. I might read or write a little, I might walk around for a while, or I might just sit looking out at the view.

Another one that's pretty different from that is from a picture book, City in the Winter, that we used to check out from a library near us, one that has a lot of older books, back when my kids were little. The book wasn't one of my kids' favorites, but I completely fell in love with it for some reason. I just love imagining the peaceful, cozy everyday life of that little family, the boy and his young mother and his grandma, especially on a snowy day like the one in the book when the apartment is a warm refuge. I don't ever want to live in a city, but even so someday when I'm a bit older I kind of want to live in a cozy apartment just like that with my daughter and her child, doing the shopping, tidying up the apartment, helping the kid with fun little projects, cooking something hot and delicious for dinner and then sitting at the table with them listening to their stories about work and school.
posted by Redstart at 4:27 PM on November 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


I can't resist adding two more, neither my own:

1. Inara's room from Firefly. What's especially great about this is that it's localized to one room in a punk spaceship hurtling through the universe.

2. On the comforts of that adult Disneyland, Las Vegas:

...those consumer arenas arranged by the Leisure Industrial Complex, whether it’s a suburban galleria sucking the human plankton into itself from the exit ramps, or a metro area monolith stuffed with escalators to convey the herd to the multiple price-pointed retail outlets, food court stalls and movie screens, or a red-bricked pedestrian mall reclaimed from urban blight and dolled up to commemorate some location of inflated historical import...[c]onsumer theorists, commercial architects, scientists of demography were working hard to make the Plex better, more efficient, more perfect, analyzing the traffic patterns and microscopic eye movements of shoppers, the implications of rest room and water fountain placement, and disseminating their innovations throughout the world for the universal good. Even if we fail ourselves in a thousand ways every day, we can depend on this one grace in our lives. We are in good hands.

You may not agree with the sentiment, but it's an interesting approximation.

I love this question -- and everyone else's answers -- so much. Hope you're getting what you were looking for, but in any case thanks for the prompt!
posted by miniraptor at 4:47 PM on November 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


Two possible places immediately spring to mind

The first is the neighbourhood where I was first a free range child: A big park with lots of trees, library, conservatory, serpentine pond, island, waterfalls, playground, fountain, wading pool, trees to climb, cannons and cromlech.

The second is a respectable working class neighbourhood circa from about 1930 to about 1950, with tenement flats, bicycle sheds, a Woolworths, a sweet shop, fish and chip shops, a couple of ancient churchs, all the little cemeteries that are completely hemmed in by houses, metal ash cans, round red pillar boxes, a cutting through which the trains pass, monument, brownies and girl guide troops, newsagent, horse drawn delivery vehicles, cars and lorries with running boards, bobbies, a doctor that makes house calls and has surgery hours, - basically a pastiche of the setting of many of the books I read as a child, and of Agatha Christie novels - the England that was referred to as "home" by my grandmother.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:16 PM on November 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


Someone pulled this tarot card for me and the image became a reference point fo rme when I need to get to a cill place within myself.
posted by metahawk at 5:21 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


a room though the door of which absolutely nobody but me could pass. nobody could rattle the door knob, make their voice heard through it, nothing. anything inside of that room that would allow me to stay longer and in comfort would be welcome but not necessary.

i wouldn't spend a lot of time in there, but i would use it to recharge.
posted by wires at 5:39 PM on November 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


I used to live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and I continue to dream of going back. When I fantasize about my happy place, I build a small house there on the side of a hill in a beautiful pine forest. It’s just far enough out of town to make it seem completely isolated, and it’s snowing outside.

In that house I will have a small library, the walls lined with bookshelves, with a fireplace on one wall burning warmly. I am in a big comfy chair in the middle of the room, with a book and a warm drink, looking out the window at the snow, my cats sleeping by the fire.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 6:13 PM on November 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


This is going to sound weird, because I actually live on a lake in Maine, but I'm isolated a lot. My favorite DVD is Timeless Ocean. Think I bought it on an end cap at Walmart a while back? It's nice music, with video of underwater ocean scenes, etc. Sometimes I'll put it on just to bring a chill vibe to my little house, so I can focus on getting things done.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:50 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


I must have pastiched an ideal desert landscape.

So, one of my happy places is the memory of a real life trip to Death Valley over Christmas. A friend was working for the National Park, and we stayed at her staff house for 10 days or so.

The weather was warm, dry and unchanging, the landscape bleak and spectacular. Going for a run there was so, so quiet and peaceful, like running on a magical alien planet.

It was a year after many of my friends there, myself included, had experienced various tragedies, and needed a Christmas which made as little sense as the year preceding it. It was a lot like a retreat to a pocket universe, like I suppose many of the best vacations are.

I've had an affinity for bleak desert landscapes ever since, they feel like such an escape.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:07 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Lots of places in the Lord of the Rings. Lothlorien, in the trees; in Tom Bombadil’s house, listening to the rain in the heart of the Old Forest; in Ithilien after the quest is over; in the Shire in the perfect year of 1420.

The places to sleep in video games seem so wonderful. Try Swallow’s Nest in Breath of the Wild. Something about finding a place to sleep, paying for it, healing, waking up healed. That and the outdoor bed in a roost.
posted by argybarg at 10:24 PM on November 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


CTA train cars have a bench across the aisle from the driver's compartment that has a divider between it and the rest of the train. The best most relaxing place is that bench on the rearmost car as the train crosses the river.
posted by PMdixon at 6:11 AM on November 11, 2019


It's in the mountains of the western US, high enough to have a spectacular view of valleys and plains below me and other mountain ranges beyond that, but with higher mountains above and behind me. I'm on the side of a mountain, not at the top, in a pleasant meadow with scattered trees and big rocks, dotted with wildflowers. There might be sagebrush. It's a somewhat dry area, but there's a lush feeling to it also, a a moderate western dry-climate lushness. It's spring or early summer, just the right temperature to enjoy the sunshine without being too hot or too cold. It's not exactly a remote wilderness. I can probably see some small towns and roads in the distance far below. But I'm not on a trail and there is no one else around. I'm completely alone (except for maybe a dog.)

This is a perfect description of the place I most often walk my dog (except that I am on a trail, but mostly I'm the only one who ever uses it), and although I always feel so lucky when we're up there, your describing it in this discussion of ideal places gives me renewed appreciation. I am in favor of more threads like this!
posted by HotToddy at 6:35 AM on November 11, 2019


Ooh, I love this! All my happy places involve the woods and water and being completely in solitude in nature, on a warm spring day. They are all real places.

For a long time it was the creek and forest near the house I grew up in, a private little gully with lovely old growth trees and brambles to make hideouts in.

Later, it was Semuc Champey, a cascade of turquoise pools and waterfalls in a mountain valley in the cloud forest of Guatemala. Specifically sunny days outside of the tourist season when it felt like I had the whole park to myself and I could swim naked and pretend to be a water nymph.

This summer I found a new spot, a soft bed of sphagnum moss that feels like laying on pillows on a cliff overlooking a lake ringed by mountains. I would lay there for hours, shaded by cedar trees and hearing nothing but lapping water and a gentle breeze in the treetops. Just thinking about being there relaxes me completely.
posted by ananci at 9:32 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mine is a bed layered with quilts that is in a half-story/attic or window dormer space. You can hear it raining outside and the lighting is soft.
posted by purple_bird at 9:46 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


I realized I didn't address the part of the question about why my happy places resonate with me. One of mine was a mountain meadow. What I love about that place is the beauty, the peace, the sense that I'm in a special place most people don't know about and can't easily get to, and the fact that I'm all alone there. There's no pressure to meet other people's needs or expectations, no worries about what they think of me, no need to even think about them if I don't want to. I love being able to see a long distance and having a big, interesting landscape around me. That's an important part of it. Part of what makes it feel completely safe and relaxing is that it's not deep in the wilderness. I'm far above any towns or roads, but I can see them, or know where to go to look down and see them. It's wild and remote but not so remote that I have to worry about getting lost and dying. (I could worry about breaking my leg and not ever being found if I were the kind of person who worries about that kind of thing, but I'm not. So I would feel completely safe even if being alone out there wasn't actually 100% risk free.)

My other one was the city apartment where the boy lives with his mother and grandmother, particularly the one snowy day described in City in the Winter. I love the cozy feel of being inside in a warm home when it's cold and snowy outside. But what I love most about that book is not just the place but what I imagine the lives of the people are like. I'd like to be any of them. The boy with his comfortable, safe, familiar life, the two people who love him, a nice hot dinner at night, the pleasant bits of excitement or new fun mixed into the familiar - the snowstorm, making barns for his animals out of cardboard boxes, feeding crumbs to the birds, the adventure of going out into the deep snow. The young mother who probably has some sadness in her background. Her husband died or her boyfriend dumped her after she got pregnant or she got divorced. But now she has a great little kid she loves and she has her mom to comfort and support her, so her life is actually pretty comfortable. She might have to go out into the snowstorm to catch a bus to work in her miniskirt, but she has someone to watch her kid all day, clean the house and have a hot dinner waiting when she gets home. If she wants to go on a date or just go be alone somewhere, her mom can watch her son. She's young and pretty with her whole life ahead of her and good things are bound to come to her. And then there's the grandma, living her peaceful life, nothing to worry about but home chores, shopping, cooking, and looking after the people she loves. She has hours of time alone every day when the little boy is in school and she can do what she likes, but she's never alone for long enough to get lonely. She gets to come up with fun projects for the kid, read him books and tell him stories, and cook delicious meals every night. In my mind, they all love each other and they never fight, not any kind of serious fight.
posted by Redstart at 12:25 PM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


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