When I was little it was just my Mom and I. I had A LOT of alone time. I had no siblings and my Mom worked a lot, so whether we were at home or at her office, I had to figure out how to entertain myself. No Nintendo Gameboys back then. In an effort to fend off boredom, a glorious imagination was born.
We lived one house away from the corner in the city. There was a stop sign on that corner. And for all practical purposes…that stop sign was my boyfriend. I think it would be good to point out that not only are stop signs bad dancers, but they aren’t very engaging boyfriends, and they do not kiss back. Oh get your head out of the gutter…I didn’t try to make-out with the sign for the love of Pete…I gave it/him pecks when I was certain nobody was looking. After all I was only 8, or 9, or maybe 10 or 11, but no matter, ours was a secret affair.
There was a broom with which I was often forced to spend time (we had pine trees that littered our front walk and steps and it was my job to sweep them away) that became my microphone. I had concerts all Spring, Summer, and Fall at which I did perfect renditions of songs like “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” and “Lucky Star.”
Our dining room table was the perfect location for me to make my talk show appearances. It was amazing how many people wanted to interview me at the time. A very young Oprah and Phil Donahue to name a couple. It’s tough to get to them all when you’re as famous as I was.
When my Mom and I went shopping I would bring along my two sisters, we were triplets, they would show up anytime there was a three-way mirror. Christine, Kate, and Carrie. We even dressed the same. I assumed, when I saw other shoppers looking at me either with disgust or amusement, that they were just jealous. Wouldn’t you be?
Our concrete basement floor served as the hottest roller rink in the city and I would circle and circle and circle while thinking up elaborate story lines in my head.
And when my step-Dad came into the picture and flooded an actual ice rink in our big city backyard? Forget about it. We suddenly lived in the North Pole, where, I just happened to be a snow princess.
When my Mom had me start ironing, I was a maid for a wealthy family, and the very dashing and RICH boyfriend of the family’s daughter found me VERY interesting and VERY attractive. He wanted to ditch the rich girl and take me away from there.
I’ve always been a dreamer. I don’t think one person who knows me could tell you otherwise. Something happened in college, though, that made the dreams seem less shiny and sparkly. I can’t say that I stopped imagining or dreaming but I can say that they were fewer and farther between.
Obviously, when things are dark in one’s life, we focus on surviving instead of thinking about what could be. I know that’s true for me. But as things have turned around in my life I’ve had to work to get back into dreaming big. But I’ve also realized I don’t use my imagination a whole lot. And that, my friends, makes me SAD.
Last Fall, the little girls and I were on our own one evening, as my husband had a work commitment. We were going through the motions, “how was school, what did you learn today, what was your favorite part of today, and WHAT on earth should we do about dinner?” The girls had been asking to play restaurant for several days in a row and finally I relented. To be honest, on an evening with no homework or places to run, no excuses for why we couldn’t came to mind. So I gave in.
I sat them at a patio table on our front deck. I brought them water and a bowl of pretzels. Then I quickly wrote up menus and brought them back down to them. They were REALLY picky and took QUITE a long time to decide what to order. Damn customers. They finally decided on a fruit, a main course, and a dessert.
Okay, I’ll be honest with you, I started to enjoy myself. Are you kidding me?! I hadn’t made believe like this since I was a kid. Unless you count simulated sales calls at company meetings…which isn’t REALLY what I would consider “making believe.” Except, of course, that those meetings ALWAYS go how you hope they will.
Back to the story. I went all out. I went back to their table as a normal waitress would and asked if everything was okay, if they needed anything else, etc. I decided to get a little crazy. I ran in and typed up little checks on my laptop. The girls had chosen different meals and so their totals were different. When I brought them their bills they froze. My oldest little girl said “do we REALLY have to pay for this?” I said “well of course, but we take credit cards.” I expected they’d get the point and run up and get their fake credit cards. They did not. My littlest little girl said “I have money…I’ll go get it…will you help me count it?” Sweet little thing. After a few more tries to get them to understand I was asking them to get their fake credit cards I just told them to “GO GET YOUR FAKE CREDIT CARDS FOR PETE’S SAKE!” I then printed up little receipts for them to sign for their credit card purchases.
They LOVED it. But so did I. Holy Hannah! It had been ages since I pretended like that. I mean, I guess we all pretend every day. We pretend we don’t feel like crap and go to work anyway. We pretend we’re not mad even though we want to murder our spouses for not walking two feet to put their dishes in the dishwasher. We pretend we’re financially secure even when we’re a little scared about money.
But when do we actually use our imaginations and pretend for FUN. I’ve talked about the need to dream big, the need to remember THE SECRET, but what about plain old use of our imaginations. Can we dream big enough if our imaginations are dusty from so little use?
Not to mention, if our children are able to fill their time with their DS, their Leap Pads, their video cameras, their fake cell phones, their real cell phones (for those of you with children old enough for them), however will their little imaginations develop? If we’re not imaginative in what we talk about and do is there any reason to think that they’ll be?
I think it’s time to bring the imagination back. For me, it will be like welcoming a dear old friend (and two sisters only visible in three-way mirrors). I can imagine myself in so many places (the Louis Vuitton store in Paris for example) doing so many things (bringing the little girls to Europe) and maybe that will help me dream bigger and work harder at things like…well…writing.
TODAY: What if I imagine more? What if I make believe with the little girls to really get their imaginations going? What if I play along when they are playing school, or “The Gym,” or “rock star?” Sheesh! It seems like it will make life much more magical and lovely!
PS – For the record, my stop sign boyfriend never cheated on me while we were together. I never saw any other little girl spinning around it/him “Singin’ in the Rain” style like I did. So there’s that.
PPS – I want to know what you people are imagining! But take note…I’ve got dibs on the Louis Vuitton store in Paris.