It was my twenty-first birthday, and I was hanging out with my family instead of partying with friends. In the dream, I never questioned why I was celebrating my birthday the way I did when I was twelve. I was acting much younger than twenty-one as well. In the first part of the dream, I was riding in the backseat of my mom's car. My mom was driving, and my sister was sitting next to me. She was teasing me, and I was trying not to tease her back. We were on the way back from the library, passing the Church of Latter Day Saints.
When we got home, I found that my sister was downloading a bunch of rap mp3s from Napster. I told her to quit downloading them, but she refused, and I started crying.
"You made me cry on my birthday!" I said to her. "Now cut it out or my birthday's going to be ruined even more."
I think she stopped.
Later, the whole family went out for pizza to celebrate. My parents and sister ate sausage pizza, while my pizza was mushroom and tomato. When I opened the pizza box, though, the tomatoes looked mushy and pale. They also took up almost the entire pizza.
"Don't you like anything normal on your pizza?" my sister asked.
"Well," I said, "I usually like green peppers, but Emily doesn't like those, so I never order them."
It didn't register with me that Emily wasn't there, and that if Emily were there, I might have been having a much better time.
The pizza restaurant we'd chosen that evening was nothing fancy. It looked more like an unmaintained snack bar than anything else. We were sitting at plastic picnic tables, my dad and sister and me at one, and my mom at another. The tables actually had room for four people, but my dad and sister and I had kept one seat open at ours for someone who had either eaten with us and left already, or for someone who hadn't come yet. None of us were sure who exactly this person was. I kept thinking that it could be Chris, but then I had to remind myself that we weren't dating anymore and I seriously doubted he would travel a thousand miles to celebrate my birthday with my family.
My mom, from the other table, kept asking if she could have the open seat, but we kept saying no.
We had a lot of pizza left over, so we decided to take it home. The mysterious fourth person never showed up, though on the way out of the restaurant, I ran into Chris's mom. She gave me a big hug and said she was happy to see me. She was wearing a sweater and turtleneck, even though it was May.
The next thing I knew, I was back at my apartment. It was the day after my birthday and all these people were crowding into the kitchen, taking leftover pizza from the fridge. I noticed a girl named Sarah who I'd known in ninth grade. I had never cared much for her, but I didn't question why she was in my apartment. I only asked her if there was some of my vegetarian pizza left.
"There's a lot of it," she said. "Everyone's eating the sausage pizza."
"Great," I said, and headed toward the fridge, happy that I wouldn't have to put much effort into making lunch.