There are certain places where reality is a bit altered: in movie theaters, in empty parking lots after dusk, in highways, in hotels with the curtains drawn. I often hear sentiments expressed to the effect that the world would be better off if people stopped to smell the roses. Outside, running children spit a new layer onto the gum-speckled ground. Men hustle cassette tapes, boom boxespaperbacks, DVDs, all displayed on a towel, a memorial of things we used to cherish. I AM THE GIRL who passed you so swiftly on the street, fresh and sweet as a lily of the valley. The girl you saw vividly later in your dreams, with magic dust at every strand of her hair, plush lips, and dimpled cheeks. When you awoke, you would have done anything to see her again, to drink up those warm irises like jasmine tea, to trace the veins in her wrist delicate as honeycombs, the expanse of her back a monument. She is a natural wonder. She is an entire universe in a body. You would move mountains for her.Here, another chance: I am real. I love peeling clementines and watching dusty sunsets. I always keep a manicure. I have a great laugh. As a child, I kept my mothers jade necklace in the pocket of my mandarin collared dress. I was born in a village on the other side of the world and raised in a city in the east. When I meet someone, I look first at their hands, then their eyes. Some people tell me Im the most interesting person theyve ever met, yet it feels like they never knew me at all. Ill make my way back to you as we reach the peak of the same mountain. Above us, the cloudless sky seems endless. Its a miracle were here. All we need for a good time is bubbly, lingerie, and a suspension of disbelief. Lets get dressed in our best silks and manipulate time, darling.