A painting with a quotation from the beautiful mind Dr. Rita Charon (specifically, her book Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness)
We search the horizon … seeking ways to recognize ourselves and those around us, yearning to place ourselves within space and time (and infinity), dramatizing our stuborn beliefs that life means something and that we ourselves matter.
My brother and I shared a room until I was nine. I joined his room when I was born, taking up space with the crib our father built. My brother welcomed my invasion with late-night stories of green-eyed aliens in the closet. The nook-like closet could hardly fit an adult, but it was enormous. A space for a whole colony of aliens. My bed was closer to this danger zone, which meant that the aliens would eat me first when they emerge. For years, I slept with my knees tucked up so the aliens wouldn’t get my toes.
The floor was covered in a dark blue carpet that was speckled with yellow, red, and orange dots. I would wake up after surviving the scary nights, and step onto the carpet of dots. It looked like a night sky, and I was a morning astronaut standing upside down to count the planets. I would walk through the universe inside our own room.
Then came the glow-in-the-dark star stickers my brother shared with me, which I could merely look at, but never touch. They covered the ceiling, illuminating the dots in the carpet below. I stared at our private skylight of stars only we could see, forgetting about the aliens in the closet. We slept between two universes: one on the carpet below, and one on the ceiling above. The stars were real, and the aliens were not.