Bunk Bed Theory

lea-elite-cross-lb-800Growing up, I wanted a bunk bed. It didn’t matter that my room was no bigger than a postage stamp (somehow this was true in all three of the houses I lived in as a child), or maybe it was because of the diminutive size of my room, but regardless, I wanted that damn bunk bed.

I knew exactly which one I would get if I was allowed to have it, the one in dark wood with the fringe hanging down from the top bunk. You know the fringe, like a tassel on a graduation cap, but covering the entire bottom half of the top bunk and gnarly as all get out. I wanted the fancy bottom bunk that wasn’t even a bed, just a desk, or a space for a beanbag, or even the seventh circle of hell. I wasn’t particular.

And I would sleep up top, after climbing the seemingly endless stairs to get up there, past the boogeyman (who hung out in my closet), and whatever else would somehow materialize in my way to stop me from getting as high as I could in this world. I would often stand on my bed (carefully, so as not to cause it to creak and alert my mom to the precarious position I was in) and gaze down at the world from that perch, imagining I was in my top bunk.

If I had that bunk bed I was going to play space invaders, with my He-Men and G.I. Joe figurines as stand ins for Kirk and Spock. I was going to drape my blanket over my entire body and pretend I was invisible. I was going to rig up a rope ladder over the edge and pretend I was descending Rapunzel’s hair after being her spectacularly heroic savior. I had so many plans, but they all lived right there in my head and went no further.

Because there was absolutely no chance I would ever get that bunk bed. Because bunk beds were expensive, and I was lucky enough to have a twin size bed that hadn’t completely fallen apart. Because we lived in West Philly, and then Southwest Philly, and the move from one to the other wasn’t quite a step up in class. Because my mother had so many other things to worry about besides helping me play space invaders from the dangerous confines of the space at the top of my room.

But it didn’t stop me from dreaming, from imagining how it would have been. It didn’t stop me from creating whole worlds that I alone lived in, that no one else was privy to, and that revolved completely around me. I loved those times, and sometimes, late at night, I reminisce about all the things that would have happened if I had gotten that bunk bed. But I also think about how boring the reality of that dream would have been had I eventually gotten it.

Sometimes the imagination of the thing is so much more satisfying than the thing itself.




alice_in_wonderland“We found Wonderland. You and I got lost in it. And we pretended it could last forever.” ~Taylor Swift

I love fantasy, the idea that elves, and wizards, and dwarfs, and witches, and magical lands actually exist somewhere beyond the rainbow. In fact, when I read fantasy I can almost believe that it’s real, that I will turn the corner sometime and find myself face to face with a warlock chanting incantations over a boiling cauldron. On occasion, when no one else is around, I wave my hand dramatically and say “Piertotum locomotor!” and I imagine the inanimate objects are rising up to do my bidding.

I went with Alice through the looking glass into Wonderland when I was 8, one of the most thoroughly exhilarating and wildly ridiculous journeys I have ever taken. And I can’t say I understood every single thing that happened there, but I can say I’m glad I went, that I got to experience that magnificent tea party and that fascinating cheshire cat grin. I’m not even going to talk about the hookah except to say that it stumped me more than pretty much anything else. But it all incited my curiosity and made me long for something out of the ordinary.

Then there was Narnia, and I wished I was a Pevensie. I wanted to be the long lost fifth sibling through that wardrobe and into the all-abiding winter that it entailed. And I was. I went on every single adventure with them, fighting with Reepicheep on the deck of the Dawn Treader, watching Caspian be crowned king, even to the very edge of the world, and I mourned Narnia as deeply as I’ve mourned anything in this life. I wanted to go back, to live more adventures in that great country, but it was not to be.

neverending-storyAnd oh yes, there was Fantasia, the strange land of the characters in The Neverending Story, a movie I watched when I was 10 and have loved ever since. I imagined I was riding on Falcor, that I was Atreyu battling to defeat the Nothing. I was so afraid that Fantasia would be destroyed but I had hope in Atreyu, in the childlike empress, and even in Bastion. I wanted so desperately to save the land of fairy tales, to rescue that childlike imagination that should always survive regardless of whatever is going on in the world.

That’s what really draws me in time and again to the fantastic, the idea that imagination can take us over and inspire a loyalty that is lacking in the ordinary. It’s why Harry Potter is really the chosen one, why Gollum is addicted to the “precious,” and why Neo is master of the Matrix. I love fantasy because even the most seemingly insignificant can be the hero, and the strongest can be weak. It’s a wonderland that continues to fascinate me to no end every single time, no matter the magical place or the people within it.

And, like Lucy, I’m still pretending it can last forever.


The Loss of Possibility

“Bastion, Fantasia is yours.”

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

Too many people these days disregard possibility. They spend so much time focusing on the now that they lose sight of the future. They forget that things we do now affect our future. It’s why regret comes in waves and knocks us down when we least expect it. I remember when I saw The Neverending Story for the first time, and I identified with the poor creatures and people in Fantasia who merely want to be acknowledged again by children and adults alike, by people who have lost their imaginations and their will to dream up things fantastic. I identify even more now with those creatures and people now than I did back then. The Nothing is taking over our world. Continue reading “The Loss of Possibility”

Follow That Guy!

Isn’t it funny how in so many TV shows, when the main character wants to chase a suspicious individual in a cab, the cabbie never wonders what’s going on? Just tip the guy a hundred bucks and he asks no questions. Have you ever thought about doing that in real life. I mean, not really follow someone, but see if a cabbie would be game for it for a couple extra bucks.

Or how about when the lead actor in a series breaks several laws, but he’s friends with the sheriff so he gets off? And when it’s discovered by someone else the sheriff always gets in trouble, but the lead actor rides off into the sunset with no repercussions.

Then, there’s the two people who seem to hate each other at the beginning of the show, but within an hour they are madly in love. Amazingly, though, by the very next episode the one character has moved on and the other one is nowhere to be found. In fact, if you asked about her, I’m sure he would tell you he has no idea who you mean. People in TV shows have a surprisingly short memory.

And yet as adults we make fun of cartoon characters who die in one episode and are alive again by the next. Or the imaginary friends our kids make up who have to have their own seat in the car. We constantly suspend our beliefs, but our kids can’t?

It’s all about imagination. We all have one. Some of us more than others. And we use those to make things fit that don’t really fit, in TV shows, in movies, and in real life. That’s why we delude ourselves into thinking someone is right for you when everyone else knows they aren’t. It’s also why we take so long to admit to ourselves our issues.

Imagine if we didn’t allow ourselves to believe those things, though. We wouldn’t have any fun. We would constantly be worried and stressed out about the world and our place in it. We would be self-conscious all the time, so what’s the harm in a little self-delusion?

So, next time that cabbie follows someone without question, don’t feel bad about believing it. I’m sure they will end up somewhere interesting in the end.


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