When I was a little girl, magic followed me around everywhere. She would not let go, clinging on to me, finding a way to seep into my young mind. I welcomed her like I would an old friend, letting her plant the seeds of imagination. The seeds that would then grow into an entire world, an entire universe.
I was born with a brain. With eyes, and ears, a mouth, and nose. When I first came into this world, I was seeped to the bone with new, confusing information. Sights and smells and sounds that the neurons in my brain were not strong enough to understand. Eventually, they learned. Eventually, they got bored with processing the same things over and over again. The same ceiling I opened my eyes to every morning. The morning cartoons with the spotted blue dog. The waffles with butter and raspberry jam. The pavement and concrete that lead to my school. The green slide at the playground that always burned my legs in the summer. The sound of the train as it rattled by on the other side of the fence. The echo that remained when it was long out of sight. My brain demanded I fill these little spaces with something more. So I built an entire universe.
Those little plastic animals I played with and collected. The cute and colorful ones with big eyes. At first they lived in the box underneath by bed. Then they moved into my head. They never stopped playing once they were there. I grew older and learned how to read. My mother took me to Barnes and Noble to buy me a book. I picked out the one with the pink, sparkly cover. It happened to be about fairies. Soon more of these books would pile up on my bedside table. But the stories would continue even when I had turned the lights off and closed my eyes.
One lovely summer morning, my mother took my siblings and I to that big playground. On that day, I could have sworn I saw an armadillo hanging down from the monkey bars. Unfortunately he disappeared before I could say something. I saw monsters at that playground, too, that day when I fell off the swing and skinned my knee. Unlike the armadillo, the monsters never left.
On most days, my kingdom of dreams would prosper. The happy little animals would be playing in grass as the never-dying sun lit the land in bright, saturated tones. The fairies would float around while time stood still, making flowers grow and the birds sing. But sometimes a storm would hit, wiping every bit of happiness away. The monsters would return, and my little heart couldn’t handle it. I would wake up crying and still see them crawling back into the dark edges of the ceiling.
As I grew older and reality did enough to occupy my brain, the magical universe started to fade away, one dream at a time. It’s gone now. Only wisps of it still float around somewhere deep in the untrodden corridors of my memory. I cannot remember what it felt like the live carefree, happy days, occupied only with my imagination. That’s all I ever needed during those days. Imagination.
The featured image is something I drew recently as I was contemplating my childhood imagination. I always thought that magic was just around the corner. My search for it made my childhood a happy and interesting one.