Drinking: Ginseng Oolong
I pick up a stone from across the way of my Buppa and Bamma's house. The house has always been such a magical place for me, full of undiscovered mystery, and even more undiscovered territory waiting for me any time I wasn't content with the house, the front yard, the back yard. I'd grab my Buppa off of the couch, his nicotine-stained mustache that hasn't changed in at least a decade quirking in to a smile, and we'd make the journey across the road to Pinewood school. His hand was hardened velvet in my own tiny palm, I always loved to feel the creases that age had carved in to it.
I have dreams of his hands, now. Even though he’s not around anymore, I have dreams of his soft, big hands. I hold them, I trace their lines absently as I always did when I was a child. If ever someone asks me what love feels like, I will always answer, Buppa’s palms.
The school was full of mysteries I didn't quite understand - “what was that extra building for?” the special needs kids, “what is this building for?” it's a greenhouse, “where is that music coming from?” let's go see “what is he playing” bagpipes, aren't they wonderful? And then we'd stand, just outside of the doors to the cavernous gym, and listen to the bagpipes. I was transfixed by it, as music often does to me. I'm trying to recall if they wore their outfits when playing it. I don't think so – but I remember the man in full Scottish regalia, kilt, swinging tassels and all. It was beautiful as he marched up and down the gymnasium.
I scrawl some jibberish on to that stone, and pass it in to my Buppa's waiting palm. “What's it say?” I ask, feigning knowledge, as curious as can be inside. “Vu.” he says, handing the stone back to me. Suddenly it holds so much more than just igneous matter. It is a key. It is magic. A world of wonder rushes in to my head. “Vu.” I say, holding the suddenly-heavy stone in my palm. “This is the key to Vu.”
Every single thing that mattered to me, which, at that time, heavily revolved around those goofy kid-cars that you can buy, an easy bake oven, and tons of magical books, filled up this new world. I nodded, once again feigning knowledge, and turned to him, serious now, “Vu is a world for kids only. But I'd let you come visit, if you wanted.” Because I loved him, and I loved Bamma, too, and my mom, and I knew that they could all come visit me when I went there. I’d use it as a bribe in the schoolyard, my little heavy stone, the gatekeeper to a world all of my own
“If you give me your fruit snacks, I’ll let you come visit me in Vu.”
“I’d let you go to Vu with me. Because I like you.”
“I like you too.”
But try as hard as I could, I could never get to Vu. I got close, a couple of times, but it never happened. To this day, Vu is still a part of my mind – a separate world that, I realize, I can only belong to, that I just can’t quite reach. But I don’t have to. Perhaps it is some of my untapped psychic potential leaking through, or maybe it's simply me holding on to something from my childhood I hold dearly. It has shifted, and oftentimes I don't call it by that same name, but I still hold, within a large part of my mind, a world all my own. It is magical.
“It's a key to Vu.” I say to mom, handing it to her, all puffed up and proud. I can be like that with mom. She's a goof, and she knows I am too. There’s a party happening – I can't remember why. Maybe Christmas, maybe not. We used to have celebrations in our old house. The whole family would come. It was wonderful. I loved the attention, the conversation, helping mom. “Only kids are allowed there.” I add, looking around at all the adults smiling at me.
Of course, mom pipes up. “Oh.” she says, matching my false pride of her own. “Well...” she runs in to the kitchen and picks up a spatula “This is a key to Cockadoodle.” she finishes, brandishing the red spoon eagerly. “And kids aren't allowed. We go by the lake and sing to seagulls.” I immediately picture mom, standing dutily in the middle of the lake that we pass by to get to our house, a conductor's podium before her, baton in her hand, directing a symphony with the seagulls, golden sunlight drenching the area. It captivated me, and I thought of Cockadoodle every time we drove by that place for a long time, and my mom’s proud form conducting the seagulls like a master.