I find the concept of Hell absorbing. I don't think I ever believed in a literal Hell, at any point in my religious education or development. But a hell right here on earth - absolutely. I think my earliest concept was hatched while watching the Twilight Zone. They did an awesome and thorough job of exploring what the human misery-happiness spectrum truly looks like.
It's never what you think, is it? The things that please and torment us are so individual. Is Hell other people? Certainly. But it's also loneliness. It's silence, and it's noise. It's austerity and it's excess. It's having children and not having them. It's one thing at one moment at a time and another the next.
I'm looking for a new place to live at the moment. The other members of my household and I disagree on what would make a suitable home. Yesterday I stood in the second floor master bedroom of a rental house. The ceilings soared. The pale carpets had been vacuumed into tracks. Three bathrooms! There was a giant satellite dish. Outside was a golf course, and beyond that, miles and miles of rows of neat houses on cul de sacs.
Hell, people. Oh, the first time I moved into such a home, I thought something else entirely. I thought I'd arrived. I anticipated the arrival of the neighbors with self satisfaction. I spent a lot of time congratulating myself on my fortune. And it was lovely. For a long time, as my children grew up, that house saw scout meetings, craft projects, dinner parties...the writing of my first book.
But when it was over, it was OVER. Last night I clicked, surreptitiously and longingly, through Craigslist until I found studio apartments in Oakland. I found one for $675 (and friends in the midwest, save, if you will, the effort of telling me I can get a four-bedroom home for that in your town), which is essentially chicken scratch here. No parking, no kitchen, no charm.