I was born into my new environment in an embryo of an ensemble, flesh colored with flowers that grew like morning glories breaking ground in June. There was a dinner party at an upscale restaurant in a city mall, and I covered myself with the tablecloth out of mistaken imagination that the flesh garment stopped only at the torso. Upon discovering that the length of the organza like fabric stopped a few inches above my ankles, I let go and mingled among the guests.
At one table sat my grandparents and various aunts and uncles, all absorbed in lively conversation. A waitress strode over to the table with a tray containing a blueberry pie and two crystal champagne flutes, filled with a sparky aquamarine liquid.
“Here’s the blueberry pie and the blueberry champagne,” she said as she put the pie in front of me. My great aunt looked confused as the waitress placed the two champagne flutes in front of her. The waitress laughed as she realized her mistake and swapped the dishes. “Here you go,” she smiled with a cheerful tone in her voice. “Enjoy!”
I took the glass and swallowed the swirly berry colored champagne in one or two swallows and proceeded to do the same with the next flute. It was becoming stranger by the moment in the restaurant, because nothing felt out of place. It should have seemed very odd. I kept waiting for other people I knew to arrive, yet they never did. However, the conversations among those seated at the tables was of ordinary things. Gardens and neighbors and next Saturday. A loneliness crept into my being, but vanished at the sight of a few faces I remembered from the other place. It was as if the previous ten years hadn’t occurred. They encased me in tight hugs and I could feel their bones under my fingertips. Their voices danced above the swirl of the room. I wanted to safely climb inside them, clinging to the edges of all the places where they had been and I had not. I felt the sting of how much I missed them. Yet, the people I sought were nowhere in sight.
The next thing I knew, I noticed someone tugging on my sleeve and I was led down the empty mall corridor. As the other one and I traversed the various stores, I saw their excitement and exclaimed that once I’d been here long enough, I could forget all about that other place, whatever it was. It was seeping from my memory more and more with every second that I spent here. It was fuzzier, out of focus. Everything I had been or done before was wiped clean, as though it had only been a dream or imagination. This was all so much more real and lasting.
I started to run with mirth through those echoless halls until I found myself not inside at all, but on a tree-lined street. A pumpkin-colored house stood across the street from me. It looked familiar and felt inviting. A tall blonde came up beside me. It took me a long time to recognize her as the childhood friend I wasn’t given a chance to have in my life, in that other place.
“You’re going to get to see my children grow up!” She exclaimed as she enveloped me in a hug. “That’s yours,” she said as she pointed to the pumpkin house. I was filled with a joy that I had never felt in that other place. Then, she disappeared from sight, along with the house and trees.
I then found myself in the yard of the house in which I’d lived in that other place. It was cold, dead and noiseless, until a small turquoise bubble car pulled up. I watched as an eighty-year-old woman got out and walked toward me. As she neared, an expression of sheer bliss came over her face. She ran faster and faster. The more she ran, the younger she appeared, until she was recognizable as my college friend who stopped at my home on the way back from spring break. As much unhappiness as living there had given me, she knew only happy memories. Suddenly, I knew what I must do to receive my pumpkin house.
I held the keys out to my friend. “It’s yours,” I said, and she gave me the biggest grin in all of heaven.
Then it, too, disappeared and I was back at the mall, sipping iced coffee with a new friend from the dinner party. We were within sight of the large glass entryway. I marveled at the beautiful colors that the sky was turning as night fell. It started a deep cerulean blue and morphed into inky, finally black. The pattern repeated endlessly, like a lava lamp. It was eternity and bliss, from which and I could only tear myself away because of one thought. The people I missed. I excused myself, pulled out my phone to find it fully powered, despite the time that had most certainly passed. But we were all energy and life, as long as I was touching it, my joy infused its battery, an exchange of this utopia and that other place. I dialed the numbers that were indelibly etched into my mind as I watched the changing sky.
Even though I could not make myself heard as I tried to speak to the living, I knew we wouldn’t be apart forever. This is forever, I knew, and nothing in that other place could come close to its blueberry wonder.