Monday, May 2, 2011
I was recently going through some stuff my Mom had given me from her house, and I found a few pieces of pink construction paper with some childhood drawings on it. I found myself laughing and blushing as I reviewed the drawings, some in pencil and some in crayon, marker, and colored pencil. I was amused, cheered, embarrassed, and a little bit in awe of what my eight- or nine-year-old self had come up with during a spare afternoon during one of Mom's custodial weekend visits.
Believe me, this isn't one of those "oh, remember how wonderful childhood was, how innocent and fantastic and how everything was so much better when we were kids" kinds of commentaries. Childhood tended to be pretty chaotic for me, between my dad trying to block Mom from seeing us or dragging her into court, or my sister Kitty and me trying to defend ourselves from the neighborhood girls that started the rumor that Kitty and I were "devil worshippers". Frankly, being an adult is fucking awesome, and I wouldn't trade it for any overly-romanticized view of childhood that the occasional nostalgia-waxing email forward tries to pawn off on its readers. But I found myself considering something while looking at the images that had tickled my brain recently in a quiet, non-architecturally-induced-panic-filled moment. I realized that, as a kid, I was pretty damn creative and bright.
I would make up stories that had sequels and soundtracks. I made up musical bands and singers, and I would write their entire album's songs and even sing a few of them (just the singles that were released, not the B-sides) out loud. I drew the band's members, and even some of the bands and singers I made up had feuds, and I think one of them lost their drummer to breast cancer after I entered high school. (That's the thing--even after I stopped actively engaging that part of my imagination, it would still return to me now and then, and I'd do a VH1-Where-Are-They-Now with those imaginary characters.) At Mom's house, my Lego set spread out over my room (and also into Kitty's room and down the hall when it suited us and in the basement when she had one), and I made up more characters to populate my own version of Legoland. My Barbies started their own rock group too, kind of a fancy-schmancy white-girl version of En Vogue. (Then, Kitty and I took the Barbies out in the yard and threw them up at the power lines that ran across our front yard, trying to zap them and make them melt. I never said we were normal children.)
I drew a great deal, but I never wrote much down, per se, as it always seemed like my mind went so much faster and farther than my hands could write. Those who have seen my handwriting can attest that writing (as opposed to typing) is a laborious task for me. But their names remain in my head like it's 1983: Botae, a multi-talented woman; her dad Oz, who looked like my mom's Dad in Michigan and was born super-old and nearly died at birth (about 29 years before I'd ever heard of Benjamin Button); Oz's dogs Junior and Bunior (okay, I wasn't that creative); and Mr. Invy, who was mayor of Legoland and somehow allowed Devo to move into the neighborhood and drive around in their red-and-black van, which my sister named "Devo-Machine" and would dead-pan narrate its thoughts and voice. (I'm actually laughing so hard I can't type as I think about her narrating the Devo-Machine. I can't express the utter hilarity of my 11-year old sister saying in a robotic tone "Devo-Machine is getting ang-gry, Devo Devo Devo.")
I didn't tell a lot of people about these characters, as I seemed to know/feel even as a child that imagination would be mocked. I kept my drawings to myself, mostly, although Kitty was really good about encouraging and adding onto my ideas ("If you're drawing clothes, then you should draw jewelry and shoes to go with the fashions, Pixie! And your store should sell neon shoelaces!"). So now, here in the light of day, who were your imaginary friends and creations? Tell me while I muster up the courage to post some of these pictures I drew.