I’ve never seen him like this. My husband stumbles out of the department store, high out of his mind. My insides boil.
“We’re in YOUR car!”
He drives a stick shift and my talents do not extend into that category. It’s beginning to snow. I am infuriated. A friend says he will drive us home. I wriggle myself into the smallest backseat that ever existed.
Something is different about the way our friend drives. Maybe I’m just used to my husband. Maybe it’s the snow. Either way, power steering seems to have faltered and there are dangerous curves ahead. I feel the car become rigid as I feel myself become rigid. We slide until there’s no more road. We slide off of a tiny cliff. We are stuck on a balancing rock like you’d see in a cartoon. I’m livid.
What to do now? This is surely our end. My eyes roll back into my head. I wriggle myself out of the smallest backseat that ever existed in order to consider my options. I’m looking down around us and I notice something bright and blue and moving. I’m entranced. I need it in my life and I begin to descend. I climb further and further down the balancing rock and suddenly I’m in a bedroom.
A big bedroom. There are more blue lights that move freely. I look above me and I can see our car on that balancing rock, two men staring down at me. Can they see what I see? I motion them to come down. I’m sitting on a large bed with dark sheets and a dark comforter in a dark room with dark curtains. The blue lights are not interested in me.
I am not convinced that I should try to leave this room – Where am I? When am I? What rift in space time is this? I fall back on the softest bed my human body has ever felt. I melt.
I gather myself. A door with white light leaking from underneath stands nearby. I hold my breath and enter.
The walls are white and glowing, the floors warm with hardwood. The space is tiny but great at the same time, simultaneously too large and too small. To my left, a series of rooms. My right, a kitchen full of windows and a deck overlooking mountains and more mountains and more mountains. It seems that is is morning in this world, the sun is flooding every inch that my eyes can see. This sun is warm and loving. My skin is calmed and blood rushes to my surface, my human limitations stopping nature in its tracks. There is nothing about this place that is threatening or unknown. The ceilings are high and the doors are tall – the smallness of me is showing.
In the kitchen are two beings – both too tall to fit in frame. Their slender bodies moving like water, neither one of them making a sound. They notice me but do not find my presence unusual. They are having a conversation without speaking. I am drawn to them. Their existence is scratching at mine, there is a heaviness. I need to know more. I struggle with myself as I make my first steps in this place in the opposite direction of the things that can help me understand it. I move towards a room and suddenly I realize I am very alone.
There are words everywhere. Every inch. Every wall. Words writing and erasing themselves, creating and destroying themselves. Words forming alliances, enemies. I am overwhelmed but I know where I am. This is every conversation I have ever held with other humans. Every one. In front of me both singularly and simultaneously. I cry. I cry tears of happiness and despair knowing that I will relive every moment I’ve had right now. They’re like movies, the words. I trace my age and relationships through them. I have been so careless, so careful. So loving. Puny. Petty. Sweet. My life unfolds before me, unapologetically. Soon, I see it – “We’re in YOUR car!” The flood stops. I’m embarrassed by my anger. I begin to cry for myself when the letters rearrange to say to me “To err is human. To forgive, divine.” I am trampled by my own trivialities. I have always been so hard on myself. I see the message and I understand. But I am afraid that I’m just not there yet.
I leave the room and I’m searching for someone, anyone. There are more bodies now. I don’t know any of them. I touch shoulders with people I’ve never known and we’re all so close – so close together like we belong together. We are having conversations without speaking. There is a door in the distance made of oak and it towers. There is movement beyond it. I make my way towards it, rapidly, aggressively, but it does not let me get close. I grow frustrated. I give up. To my right – a mirror, a large golden mirror. I see myself and what I am. My skin is clear and my hair is cut short to my chin. Others I have known, loved, lost are staring back at me. I can almost touch them but they are just, simply, out of reach. There is nothing about this that I understand. Time passes. A thin hand touches my shoulder and my face falls to caress it with my perfect cheek. There is an electricity between the two skins. I am comforted without asking questions. All at once there is the building of a relationship and the understanding that it is all temporary. This is the house that brings everyone together. The hand falls away and I am left to myself. It is quiet. I take a photograph of myself – the white walls begin to violently recede, the glowing dulls. This place travels away from me.
The stick shift is being towed away. Its body is ruined and I am on the side of the road. My world is cold. Snow is still falling. My husband buries his head in his hands and I try to comfort him. I am so human, so fragile. How can I be the strength this man needs? I want so badly to tell him about the place I had been but I cannot form words. My thoughts burst inside and he cries for me. We have a conversation without speaking; we make our way home in silence. I can’t place what I saw. I can’t describe what touched me. Is it a memory? Is it a dream? My thoughts are so loud and distracting. I second guess myself on it all. That night I crawl into bed with him, consumed. I check the time on my phone. Time passes. Days pass. Months. My body is light and my hair is long. I wish I could prove to myself what happened to me. I wish I could talk to someone, anyone about it. The future is cold.
One day, I find myself looking at a picture of me that I don’t recognize. My skin is soft and my hair is short. There is a gold mirror.
My heart swells – immediately I am able to convey the thoughts clouding me. I share them with my husband, I write stories. He cries with me as I long for it. It eats at me. There is no one that understands. My side of the bed is always so cold, his hair grows gray and his beard long. I go to my mother for advice. I can’t wait to tell her, finally. She has always understood.
Time has passed. My mother lives alone in her mother’s house. I haven’t seen her in so long – she is thin and her hair gray. I sit across from her at my grandmother’s table. She looks at me but does not see me. I speak to her and she smiles but does not respond. I follow her around and she pauses to listen for my footsteps or for my breath. I put her to to bed. She looks right at me and says “I’ve missed you.” I smile at her. I touch her face and she cries. Always crying and I don’t know how to help her. I lay next to her and weep.
Time has passed and my face hasn’t aged. I see my mother every day and she grows weaker. My husband, too, becomes victim to the harshness that is humanity. His face is wrinkled. He doesn’t cry for me anymore. I have found ways to move freely between my cold world and the house that brings everyone together. I’ve met many of my friends that have been led there by the bright and blue and moving lights. They have rested here. The sun has warmed their bones. The two beings remind me it is only temporary and warn me against the dangers of attachment. I say goodbye as soon as I say hello and they begin their long journey through the sea of people to the great oak door. Many have been able to proceed but there are the few that get caught up at the golden mirror. They stop and they cry and turn around. The great oak door will not accept any form of human attachment – so they become like me. They move freely. They are in waiting. I am in waiting.