It often astounds me how comfortable people are with inhabiting reality, and the more I see of life, and my place in this world, the more I envy them.
All my life, I have lived in dreamlands of my own making, poised like puffs of mother-of-pearl clouds between my ears. As a child, my imagination was seen as adorable, harmless, trite. Unfortunately, when the human exterior ballooned and grew, the fairy child within remained, flitting like a sputtering star among organs and lighting up my brain with sparks, and I realized that the adult world is one that shuns make-believe.
I wish I could express the wrongness it feels to exist in the plane of reality, but it’s almost ungraspable, a moonbeam of a thought. But I will try, if you will bear with me.
One of the reasons I have never made a true friend in my entire life, have felt isolated from almost every human being I have ever met, has been because of my daydreaming. Because I never grew out of pretending fairies lived at the bottom of the garden. Sure, it sounds all nice and quaint when I write about it like this – oh, you have an overactive imagination, that’s all – but the difficulties it poses in terms of social integration and the loneliness it engenders is devastating.
I walk about with a constant, dazed look on my face, and walking out into the world is like walking onto a bed of roasted coals. The other people are crafted out of iron and brass, and warm and blaze and shimmer in the flames, but I, and people like me, are wax figures who melt a little with every step. The iron figures can peer and gawk and marvel at each other and the world, but when you’re made out of wax, everything burns, and by the end of the day you are a shapeless blob of your true shape, collapsing in drips of fatigue. My heart crinkles at the memory of once muttering a fancy about the clouds, or tree trunks, and being met with amused smiles and confusion. I grew up in a cold, hard environment without books (I had to scavenge for them at the school library) with parents firmly entrenched in the realm of pragmatism.
My own mother has screamed at me for not paying attention, even slapped me for daydreaming and being attracted to what she calls, with a derisive sneer, “Magic.” I cannot blame her. She has lived a hard life, and the world has cooled her into a hard, metal woman. I wish you could hear the way she says that word, as if I’m a grown child sucking on pacifiers and straddled with diapers. To, in one breath, trivialize my whole world. It makes my heart sob, and the tears even slow the flights of the fairy within me, who bows her head at the sudden rain.
Sometimes, I feel like my life is but days of wandering in a desert within a cardboard box, and being relieved only by tiny trickles of water through the holes in the lid.
School. Society. My friends. My family. Teachers. The media. They cram sticks of iron down my throat, until the fairy within me cries and squeals in agony, until its glistening, pure skin blisters with red, angry boils and carbuncles, until its gossamer wings fade and tatter like rags left in a storm. The fairy is dying. And to keep its tiny spark-heart alive, I carry talismans with me. Books. Imagination. Daydreaming. Social isolation. I glory in the images and thoughts that spring up in my mind when alone. I glory in books. I live and breathe the air of the beyond, catch the ends of fresh breezes from other worlds after a day of spluttering on smog and pollution.
And the worst thing is, no-one knows. Many think I’m mad, or at the very least, eccentric. They avoid me, and I do not mind, because I know their conversation would bore me. I’m sure there are others out there like me, but I live in a village of iron people, and have done so my whole life. The pain of wafting about a ghost among the living, of the ugly duckling among the swans, of dull red stars among the scintillating…that is a pain I know very well. And it suffocates me. The world suffocates me. It cooks me and rips off my skin and laughs in my face as I lie, naked and bleeding. It is hard for me to put the anguish into words. Every day at school, I am forced to tussle with hard facts that lie like dead insects in my palm. I do not mind facts, but I do wish it could be interspersed with a little wonder, a little imagination. People have such solid brains, such hard little eyes, and they disapprove when I pluck my own brain out of my head and let it float on the end of a balloon string to dance with clouds.
I wish. I have many wishes. I wish I grew up in a family that valued imagination and creativity, a house filled with books. I wish I grew up with a host of other writers, instead of scrabbling towards the art form through the internet. I wish my heart would not shake so much, and that I was stronger. I hate my few strengths being seen as weaknesses, little airy-fairy dreamer, fragile little flower, who shall wither and die in the real world. I wish I could daydream and make up things forever.
But I will keep the fairy within me alive. It is my ultimate talisman, and I will use it to navigate the frothed waters with the aid of its warm light. It is me. I do not know what keeps me hoping, what keeps me going, except the delight and wonder and happiness at the magic I read, hear about and try to create. The fairy also suffuses my being with happiness. I will keep going. If there is one gritty, decidedly un-airy fairy trait I have, it is grit, tenacity and perseverance. The alternative is to be a weeping nothing. And perhaps one day I will smile, again and again and again, and halcyon days shall make up the fairy’s existence, instead of stormy skies and pouring rains.
I hope. I always hope. And I hope you do too.