I think I remember a few things from my earliest years when we all lived in a second floor walk-up apartment on a huge street across from a huge post office that had the most amazing length of steps up to the front doors that shined a gold patina. I remember being small sitting in a big rocking chair in my parent’s room at the back of the house, warm from the heat of the air coming through the open window that looked out on what I thought was the biggest and most beautiful tree in the world. Even as a small girl, I just couldn’t reconcile looking out the front windows of the house and seeing a busy street with cars and a constant barrage of students walking from the subway station to the high school where they were students and the view from the back of the house of the biggest and most beautiful tree. I liked the back of the house better.
On that day as I remember I watched dust particles float in a stream of sunshine that cascaded through the leaves of my tree. I was convinced that those floaters were angels coming to talk with me about the adventures I’d take and the places I’d go. My sisters and brothers were older than me so I spent a lot of time by myself while my mother worked, or napped or read or did anything that would have meant not being involved with me right then and there but that’s how mothers were in those days they say. My imagination became my best friend right and I conjured Susan, my imaginary friend. All the adults would say I had a great imagination but no one really wanted me to imagine. I found that out later when for the mere attention of family I stuffed that imagination right down my throat. I would start all my sentences with ‘imagine if’ until one day while walking down the street to buy some penny candies at Minnie’s, my sister told me to stop saying that ‘cause what you imagine can’t come true and I couldn’t hang around her and her friends if I was always imagining ‘cause I was embarrassing her. So I stopped. I stopped sharing my imagination and I started living for others, and sometimes I got angry at my sister for handing me the tool that I used to start construction on my own personal mini prison where I kept my ideas and my dreams and my visions all to myself.
Eventually I built the walls and stairwells that led to several floors of extra rooms, hidden rooms and yea, shameful rooms of my prison. It no longer just contained my hidden imagination, my creativity, my desire to vision the story. It eventually contained every imperfection of my life. Thus was my world of many years. There was the settling for a career that suited my family followed by a multitude of unfulfilled jobs, failed relationships, failed marriages, an inability to settle myself and all of those imperfections finding a special place in the many rooms in my prison.
I heard said life is a circle, we just keep running around that quarter mile and it ends up being that everything that you start out being is everything that you will eventually be anyway, and the imperfections are only pretty little gems that give you a good shine kinda like the gold patina that was on the doors to the huge library across from my childhood home. It’s even okay to build prisons, we all do in one way or another ‘cause truly we all become imperfect once we forget who we were meant to be but we can remember again, we can put the for sale sign on that prison real estate, and just keep the shine.
Then I imagined that it was perfectly acceptable to be imperfect so I was.