“Hey, want to go for a drive?” Quilt Artist asked. She was heading to a small town about 40 miles away to pick up her artwork after a show.
Winding roads took us past little college towns, icy hillsides, and trees that looked stark against the winter sky. We talked non-stop, of course, and stopped for lunch at the whole foods store that our friend Gorgeous Eyes owns. I was hungry by then.
The back of the store is sunny, warm even on that winter day. I unwrapped my scarf, took off my mittens, shrugged off my coat and then my fleece. We sat on wooden chairs at an old table with painted legs and a metal top. Gorgeous Eyes brought me a bowl of lentil soup, hot and savory, and falafel sandwich. Her girlfriend, Long Limbs, took a break and brought her own lunch over so she could talk with us.
We did eventually get to our original destination – an old opera house, built in 1892, where the art show had been. After Quilt Artist packed up her art, we walked around the building. When I walked into the big room with the stage, I said, “Wait, I think I’ve been here before.”
It was all so familiar: the rows of seats, the stage with its velvet curtain, the balcony in the back where school kids would throw peanut shells. Then I realized that I was remembering scenes from a book I’d read and reread as a child. Betsy, Tacy, and Tib go to a play with their friend Winona at the opera house in the center of town.
“I guess I wasn’t really here,” I admitted to Quilt Artist. “It just feels like I was.” I ran up to the stage and stood there, just to see if I could feel the thrill of excitement that Betsy felt when she got to be an extra in the play Rip Van Winkle. For a moment, I was Betsy, peering out from behind the curtain to see my sisters and parents sitting in the audience.
When we stepped out of the opera house into the winter sunshine, it seemed odd to see cars going past. “So many horseless carriages,” I thought to myself as we started home.