I was a restless kid. I liked to move. I liked to dream.
I also had a huge need for people.
When actual peers couldn’t play, I called on my imaginary friends.
Mrs. Alive was my first pretend pal. She was the mother of my favourite doll “Baby Alive”.
That doll was a lot of work.
The Mrs. needed me to take care of the kid sometimes. (I mean the baby couldn’t be MINE… I was only 4!)
Over time our hand-off conversations grew rich.
She lived in the cupboard housing our hot water tank. It was a big space and she was often moving her furniture around. She wished she had a window.
In summer Mrs. Alive would cottage in our refrigerator because it was much cooler there. The little toggle that turns the light off and on when you open and close the door was her door bell.
I spent a lot of time ‘ringing’ that switch over a few years. (I also really like to press buttons, but that’s another story).
Imaginations grow with us
I eventually grew up and moved out.
I always cry a little when I hear Puff the Magic Dragon or watch anything to do with the relationship between Christoper Robin and his Pooh.
The day Andy gave up the toys and started his own story kicked me in the gut.
I have a deep and powerful love for puppets.
I once sent a puppet across the country on the kindness of strangers.
“Cal” was the one fanciful element in a serious week-long national radio series on how we commute and what that daily trek says about us.
I think how we react to puppets says just as much.
So now what?
Now I am fifty years old and living through a pandemic.
I have two teens and a communicative husband. Our house even in isolation is full of conversation.
I am in constant virtual contact with students I teach and my colleagues both at the post-secondary school and at our public broadcaster.
And yet, in this uncharted era of physical distancing I am drawn again to pretend.
I miss mingling in the mall with strangers, chit-chats in a grocery line, and locking eyes with neighbours who just aren’t friends yet. I have my family, but I miss the whole hive and its constant motion.
I physically miss them so much.
So I walk the mountain trails where the trees are majestic. The stumps are full of character and quirk.
I see dragon’s feet. I see kings and queens, workers, musicians and misfits. They are at a party and I was invited too.
I am compelled to say hello… to find a doorbell near a tree knot and ring it.
Would that be so bad?
By the way the townhouse I grew up in was torn down a few years ago.
Mrs. Alive got the window she always wanted.