When I die, I think I will return to my childhood house. A number of people who have lived there before and since will be sitting in the living room, waiting for me. Mr. Deng, who sold us the house, will pour me a lemonade. Mrs. Deng will offer me a chair. They will introduce me to the assembled men and women, and the occasional child — we will all be the age we were when we lived in the house, but we will also be ageless, because we are dead and this is our form of heaven.
My parents will not be there. They will go back to their own childhood homes, or their college dorm rooms, or the apartments they rented before they were married. Everyone will go back to the house that is most theirs, and for me it will be the one-bedroom on Hinchcliff Avenue with the screened-in porch and convertible den.
Soon we will realize how much we all have in common. It's not that we like to do the same things — the Kearny twins might play ping-pong in the hall day, while Mrs. Deng gardens and Mr. Moreno reads about personal finance. We won't even all speak the same language. What we will share is a topography of the brain, a comfort with certain spaces, certain angles. We will never bump into each other. Even in the crowded living room, we will move easily because our minds and souls are fitted to this house as they have never been to any other place in all of our shifting, clumsy lives.