Lately I’ve felt sick with adventurous longing, which has been manifesting itself as crying. I never expect it. I can’t prepare myself for it. Some days I’m completely fine, and then it happens.
It happens when I see the sun reflect in just a certain way along a puddle in the grass. It sparks this part of my imagination, the part that it did when I was tiny. Recess brain. And I feel it. I physically feel it. I just think, “What is it I’ve been doing? How could I forget? How do I get it back?” Like nostalgia, but it’s not just memories. It’s like something I once knew, but now can’t remember. Like it’s just out of my reach. Like I should be 7, and that puddle is an unswimmable lake, and it’s up to me to cross it. Like I need to be in it. To save us all. Like I should be in the woods. Deep and lost. Adventuring. To save or be saved.
When it hits, I can’t even say words out loud. I think I should, but I can’t. I even some times try, but it’s like the Gentlemen have come and taken away my voice. Or Ursula, if you prefer, but it probably is closer to the Gentlemen, because I didn’t volunteer for this.
I wish I had friends who would be 8 with me. I remember when I was maybe 10, 10 seems right. All of the other girls, the “cool” girls stopped playing.
At recess they just stood in circles talking. Like the Ashleys.
If you played, particularly with your imagination, you were weird. It’d be one thing if you were playing kickball, ya know for the attention of a boy, or because you just didn’t know how to be a girl, which was more often what you were accused of. But to play Ghostwriter at 10 (not just because it cancelled when we’re 8, or because The New Ghostwriter Mysteries suuucked). To play Narnia at 10. To have to fight monsters at 10, as a girl, made you a weirdo. And I was a weirdo. I was a damn weirdo. I still am, but I also wanted to have friends. So I stopped. I stopped before I wanted to. I stopped before I should have.
Like so many other things it feels like a piece of my childhood was taken away from me. So many things get taken. Taken isn’t fair. In this case I sacrificed it. I burned it on the alter of cool, and still I wasn’t. The ash and smoke of my imagination in my eyes and hair. Wafting up to the gods of cool, but never accepted.
So weird still, in fact, that I was asked to distract someone else, who by all cool girl standards, was not weird. I always thought she was cool. I didn’t get that that was their way to keep us away from them. But I will always love that that joke backfired. Sure, they got what they wanted, but we each gained a best friend. She got weirder. I grew more normal. We wrote stupid songs that we sang constantly. Some that I still do. Maybe we didn’t play the way I wanted to, but we wander. We wandered our respective neighborhoods and woods. We spent whole weeks of spring break together, not going anywhere, but the other’s home.
I still pine for someone to take my hand at the sound of a strange noise and make an elaborate tale of what that might be. To wander the woods with me looking for clues, clues to the mystery we haven’t yet discovered. A fleck of paint on the tree is a clue. It’s not a trail marker like you think. It’s a warning. It’s a cry for help. It’s someone that needs saving.
Maybe that’s what it all falls back on. I can’t save people. I’ve tried. I can help. I wanted to “save” the other girls from [redacted]. I wanted to save myself from the shame of being odd. Because deep down, I still wanted to rescue people. From their captors. From the monsters. From themselves. My imagination needs saved. It’s trapped in a loop, and I can’t get it out to roam free. It’s spinning. I feel it spinning, but it’s stuck. I’m stuck.