I was 8 years old when I decided to stop playing with toys and realized the need for a substitute. Until then, my play had reached soap opera status, the little plastic horses in the little plastic stable which were among my prize possessions had taken on a life of their own. There was drama and back story and each session of play would continue the melee.
And one day, I had this thought, that soon I would stop playing with toys. Suddenly I felt as if it were a boring activity. That there was too much limitation.
And so I thought about it for a few weeks, and I thought very hard, of options to replace toys. And I discovered books about the same time I discovered day daydreaming. And the books which captured me were a series of 7, followed by a series of 8 after it. They were thin books, soon I could read them all in a week. Today, I could read them all in a day. But they captured my imagination, and woke a love of reading and of romance, which had been a single thread through the books that I was quite taken with. And soon I began to wonder if I could just be rid of the need for a medium. After all, why would I need toys which were limited to shape and form and caricature, if I could simply imagine them as anything.
Thus I made rather appropriate use of the designation imaginary friend. Which soon became plural. Soon, a little tiny wagoneer and his wagons full of wife and brood, were reoccurring visitors, as was the girl who could only walk on shadows, who I often played with while in the car. And the only friend who remained attached to physical form was Buster who was my best friend.
Buster, I’ve written about him before in various self dissecting variations, remains to this day my first heartbreak. He was made of a black cat form, beans in his round paws to weight them, and little orange embroidery in his years and orange colored eyes and an orange bow. He was a Halloween cat.
I loved him at first sight. He was in the rather expensive thrift store which sold baby clothes that was near our new house, sitting on a shelf behind the counter. I remember my mother wouldn’t buy him, but helped me save for him. I remember i wasn’t even high enough to reach the counter when I emptied by piggy bank for his purchase. And when I took him home, because my mother didn’t approve if Halloween, the first thing I did was change him. I recolored his eyes, I sowed over his ears, I rid him of the Halloween orange bow. And then he was safe to love, and love him unconditionally I did.
And toys were played with less and less, and the in not at all, but my imaginary friends and Buster remained. Buster, who was imaginary and not at the same time, physical toy, and voice in my head which I knew was under my control, but I imagined not. Buster who was still was a real person to me. He was my conscience, sometimes, in fact usually he was the devils advocate to any venture of mine. He often urge me to do things which were wrong too, in the interest of making mow happy. I was a very well behaved child, too behaved at times, and it was a nice release of that control to allow myself to follow his directives on the occasion.
It was when I lost Buster that toys and imaginary friends of the kind I imagined I could see disappeared. My mother and stepfather went through a divorce and for a while he had custody. Then, with the court ruling, I was returned to her, and my sister stayed with him. And Buster was left on a pile of clean clothes and was forgotten in a rush of event unpredictable and extreme. And after that I didn’t play with toys again. Nor did the imaginary ones show up. I think the wagoneer might have bid me good bye, and I k own the girl who could only walk on shadows still runs about Portland Oregon in the rain. But they never visit me.
However the need for play didn’t leave. And I did remember the books and the daydreaming, and after a little while I found daydreaming was rather limitless. I could imagine anything, be anyone, have any life I wished, all in the privacy of my little head. And eventually people thought I was a patient and quiet child. But really, I was just happiest in my head than out. If I weren’t daydreaming, I was reading, finding inspiration for my daydreams, and looking back I was learning how to write.
I didn’t stop the day dreaming. I continued it far into my teens them twenties saying I would stop soon, but never managing it. In my head I would play out an imagining staring me and I would imagine it being the reality and this world the dream. And nothing ever came true but I never stopped believing that owned way something would, and even if it didn’t, while I was there in the daydreams, in the books, I was happy. More happier than I’ve ever been here except when in the throes of love.
I realize now, I am selfish. That’s why I write. Its not because I want to share with the world or make loads of money or get in the history books. If I do get famous I want it to be under alias. Its because I’m older now and I don’t really remember the daydreams they way I used to. And words better capture them anyhow. And I’m actually good at it, after the years of being buried in between the pages.