When I was a kid all I wanted was to be outside and on my own. My imagination was my refuge, and I employed it through various outlets: creating characters and stories via drawing, writing, and acting out. I practically lived in my old Halloween costumes–all black, an empty landscape where I could simultaneously create any storyline or be in none at all.
These were the days of Mutant League, Darkwing Duck, Biker Mice From Mars, Bonkers, and Animaniacs. Days before everything that was anything had to be ultra-realistic to be interesting. Days before gadgets were strapped to our hips, where you could be immersed in a city and yet totally disconnected and present in the moment.
They were painful days, but remembered so vividly, the memories full of color and plot twists. Everything was distinct then–days didn’t bleed into weeks and become a subsequent, stand-still blur. As I become older, I notice how much of those days I’ve carried with me to now. My gender neutral inclinations. My little regard to follow what others thought was cool. My distrust in the feelings of caring for and wanting to know more about new people in my life, after all, I’ll only be here for a little while.
When I returned to college at a 20 year old, I remember reading a book that was a collection of memoirs, called “From Boys to Men.” It remains one of the best reads to date. There was a story in it, with a long title that I can’t remember now, that was so much like my own it is as if the author was there with me. It made me remember things that I had nearly forgotten in the time since those days. How I began to walk on my tiptoes around the apartment, and began to wet the bed. A sudden curiosity in nursing and constantly posted drafts of runaway notes on my bedroom door. It’s no wonder, when I stop to think about these times, that I have so much premature gray hair now: I was so stressed in those days that I was physically sick and often out of school from vomiting.
But in the same breath, I owe so much to those days. If I didn’t have those days, maybe every bit of my childhood would be blended together in a pleasant and forgettable clump. I wouldn’t be able to call upon these memories to create stories or inform what my opinion is on whatever fill-in-the-blank issues. Can you appreciate the light without the darkness to define it? Can you know what is sweet without being familiar with what is tart?
I worry, especially lately, that one day even these vivid, illustrious and well-defined memories will all fade away from me. I have a battle plan, though: To keep on writing, with as much detail as I can muster, so that these memories, even if they fade, can continue to be accessed by myself and whoever else out there that might stumble upon them and find a narrative that is not-so-dissimilar to their own.