You step into an acquaintance’s house for the first time, and discover that everything — from the furniture, to the books, to the art on the wall — is identical to your home. What happens next?
I rub my eyes vigorously to make sure I’m seeing clearly, or maybe to wipe the image from my retinas. Still there. I sit on the couch and hold my head with my eyes closed trying to focus my mind on where we were going and where I am now. I am positive this is not my house, but it is. My family pictures are on the walls, the quilts that I made, even the same antique clock that belonged to my mother-in-law. What is going on? It even looks like my dream house from the outside. You know, the one that I have kept the plans for in a special file for “someday”. I want to run out of there and back to my own house to double check. I want to flee from this person. She works with my husband, but I have only met her a few times. I have been out of town for a week and she offered to pick me up at the airport because my husband’s car broke down yesterday. We just had to make a quick stop at her house on the way back to mine. Is she a stalker? Does she want to kill me and take over my life? It’s like a nightmare! The house is a little off the beaten path in a heavily wooded area. I am frozen in shock, eyes wide, mouth open, utter confusion on my features. This woman, who says she wants to be my friend, welcomes me to her home like nothing is out of the ordinary and asks if I would like a cup of tea?
“Yes….no…..yes,” I respond.
She proceeds to fix me a cup of tea exactly the way I like it, with a teaspoon of honey and generous lemon….fresh, not from a bottle. I take it, stunned, and sip it as I stare at her in silence. I am second guessing my judgment and am feeling very disoriented, almost dizzy. I want to cry and run away and attack her all at the same time, but am now completely unsure of myself. Did she put something in my tea? I set it down on the table….my table, and sit on one of the chairs….my chairs.
I quickly decide that it is time to leave. I’m just going to start walking and call a cab and my husband on the way. As I stand up and walk towards the door she grabs my arm and says, “Wait, you have to meet the family who lives here before we go.”
That was on odd way to say that I think to myself, but am afraid to say anything. You never know when a mentally unstable person is going to snap. I hear someone coming in the from the back of the house and turn around to see my own family. What?! I look at my husband and children more confused than ever now. I turn back to the front door and then back around to my family and they are all standing there with stupid grins on. Finally, my husband says, “Welcome home!”
“I built your dream house during all my ‘overtime’ this past year and moved all our things over while you were gone last week. Surprise!”
I turn to this woman whom I barely know as if to ask for confirmation that this is true and she is just smiling and nodding away. In a rush my kids grab my hands and start dragging me around to show me everything and everyone is talking at once. I gladly follow them with a befuddled grin on my face and I know that all is well.