One of my favorite descriptions of place is heaven in The Lovely Bones. Alice Sebold’s rendering knocked me out. It made so much sense. It’s been a long time since I read the book but what’s left over is how everything was personalized right down to the availability of each resident’s favorite ice cream.
I loved that.
I, too, have spent a great deal of time thinking about heaven as a setting for not only a novel but, you know, eternity.
Architecturally speaking, I think it has an infinite number of overlapping compounds where families and friends hang out, listen to good music and eat high-fat unhealthy food. There is perpetual light-cotton sweater weather and the mowed fields are perfect for touch football. Each house has separate wings but lots of common space. Think very upscale commune. There are private bathrooms with those new hot water heaters that keep on going. Piles of excellent books, not just the ones you’re supposed to like, dot tabletops and fill shelves. There’s always new seasons of The Wire waiting to be viewed. And Shameless (the British one.)
(Eventually) people from every chapter of your life are present. Dogs, too. Cats have their own compound.
Everyone laughs and feels the rush of being together. There’s irony and sarcasm that approaches the line but doesn’t ever cross it. Old slights are forgotten. (Except for the really bad ones. They can be remembered and nursed as necessary.)
Beyond the obvious things that are absent (war, poverty, disease, crime) missing, also, are guilt, fear, jealousy and shame. And judgeyness. That’s gone, too. And stupid bureaucracies. Redemption and reconciliation are not only possible they are achieved.
Also, there are no cosmetic issues.
And most importantly, there is the constant recognition that it couldn’t get better than it is.
Ps. One of my daughters thinks it’s morbid to ask, but have you considered your perma-setting?