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A co-worker in Oregon turned to me one Halloween, with a light in her eye and said with a drawn in breath and a mischevious smile, “This is our day.”

I knew what she meant. A day for the naturally witchy and magical to feel not-so-different, and be free to fully express themselves without the watchful eye of society narrowing in.

If you think I’m being too harsh on our confines, consider this. Three weeks ago I was at the city market for some dinner fixins when I came upon a male of about 50 years. He wore a pink chiffon nightie, had his thinning grey hair in pig tails and had a pacifier around his neck. I saw him later and overheard some scornful remarks about his apparel. Three weeks ago, that man was a freak. Two night ago? A creative and fun-loving gentleman.

I’ve always had a penchant for fantasy. Make-believe is such a beautiful name for a simple game. That children can actually make themselves believe that they are something else entirely. The two-year-old daughter of my employer often informs me in a “you’re-so-silly-for-not-knowing-this” fashion that she is an elephant or dinosaur.

The games we entertain as children do very well to serve as a precedent for the lives we will lead as adults, and if they do not, perhaps we should start listening to that little voice and see what we may be denying.

Some of the make-believe I remember:

1. Playing bank with a stack of carbon copies someone had swiped along with the lollipops that so often flow freely in the lobbies of our financial institutions.

2. “Sailing the seven seas” on a wooden bench in the backyard. The treehouse donated by my aunt and uncle eventually became a sailing vessel as well.

3. “Homeless person”, in which I was a runaway that found shelter in a kind family’s home. They would feed me roast beef sandwiches which I would ravenously eat. Sometimes this would turn into a kind of entertainment facility where I would make my keep as a cabaret singer.

As a child, there was not much I could do to make real of any of these fantasies, so I made myself believe that they were true, but also perhaps that they were possible. As an adult, perhaps I have indulged fancy more than your average matured human, but still I feel restricted by some leash of reality, linked to my coat.

It is so often, that once we are free agents, fully able to make our dreams come true, we balk, or at best bunt.

Our compromise is largely a matter of disbelief. We create obstacles like money and time and underestimate ourselves, and distort ourselves into something “good enough”.

I have never been so happy as when I had little more than a few hundred dollars, some clothes I found in a box on the street and some idea of when the next freight train would come through. Even when my only sure shelter was under a thickly-needled pine.

But. Here I am, less than half a decade later with a car payment and a doctor’s appointment and a job I no longer enjoy. Something sets in, and we can no longer answer all of our questions for ourselves, but when we ask the answers are all antiquated and irrelevant, but we listen to them anyway.

I like my bed. My wall covered in old encyclopedia pages. Lace curtains from my aunt. My garden. I couldn’t walk out my door and sleep in the nearest national forest, because I’m building something here. I’m doing my best to put together the pieces and instead of making believe, believing that it is all real. That it’s just a matter of time.

Those old dreams were easy. These are those buried deep in sleep, whose details you recall only when reminded during your day. It is not a solo journey, and it includes the most irrational-seeming actions, like smiling at grown men with pacifiers and staying put when you want to run. Because my dreams are interlocked with his. And yours. I will never fully achieve mine until you believe in yours. We are in this together. Which is lucky, because that means we don’t have to be alone.

 

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