There are few moments in a person’s life in which they can take a step back from their conscious minds and realize a change in “direction” or change of “purpose” within their paths. Most of life seems like a continuous flow of a journey, an ever speeding ride that starts and finishes as the sun’s journey through our day light. We are, when you get down to the core of it, simply a combination of our past experiences and memories. But some of us, few and far between, have experienced a brief moment in history in which we felt the tides of our own oceans turning. The moment is brief. The moment is sometimes small. Yet the moment is forever fleeting. Like a cool breeze that suddenly crosses over the hot sands of our minds, we suddenly are swept up from something that finally brings a new sense of understanding into our lives – ultimately changing us forever. This moment came for me when I was rather quite young. In fact, I was in the middle of my third year of elementary school. Before we go any further down this recollection trip of ours, I will have you know a little about my past.
In my younger days, I had been branded as what you may refer to as a “liar”, but the reality wasn’t found in the sense of that word. Instead of “lying” in modems of deceit, I simply and honestly believed with all my being that if something was conceived within my thoughts and plopped out of my mouth that it was systematically true. It probably sounds absurd, simply believing in something and taking it as true when there was no evidence behind its conception other than my frivolous thoughts. But that’s how it was, or so I thought, in my world of being. In fact, I vividly remember telling my brother one day that I was actually not his sister, rather a lost princess in need of finding her way home. Where from the cosmos did that idea originate from? Well, since I can’t even tell you, God would be the only one to know.
With the daisy chain I labored at making for hours around resting atop my curly locks and birds singing every which way I turned, I was a princess. Nothing that “reality” presented to me was truer than that. And so time went on. I was a royal princess. I did not eat the last cookie. I had magical powers. Just no one else knew about it yet. Imagination was the all-powerful and ruling force of my world – the seams of reality and dream forever muddled and intertwined. It was like I had not really been born yet, like I was not actually alive, rather just stuck in purgatory of pre-life and had not yet taken the steps into the real universe yet. And then came third grade.
It was Mrs. Alley’s class – she was a rather “persnickety” as she liked to call it lady who absolutely wouldn’t let anyone get away with anything. She was nice though, I could tell she had a warm heart and I liked her better than my last teacher. All the other kids had done and finished their detailed map of the California state, all colorful and bright from crayons wax. But then there was me – perfectionist who would draw four pencil etchings and then erase five. Mrs. Alley announced that everyone that was done could go outside and begin a game of “kick ball”, which was the absolutely best part of any school day. I was put in between a rock and a hard place.
As everyone else started fileling out of the room, a silence began to pervade the place. Eventually I was alone, sitting in a desk with a half lightly drawn potion of California on my paper. Eventually I just put my pencil down and started to look around the class room. It’s truly amazing how the absence of sound and souls can change a place. As the clock ticked onwards, my mind came to recollect the perfectly printed version of the California map that was resting in the pages of my history section of my binder. One envisioned, there was no turning back.
I ran to the other side of the class room and tore my binder from the top shelf, turned the history tab and found my booty. It didn’t take long, the copying of the whole thing and the end product was rather magnificent if I have the right to admit so myself. By the time I was finished though I could hear little third grader feet beginning to scuff on the outside stairs. With the zip of a zipper and a scurry across the room, all proof of the occurrence had been erased… or so it appeared. When everyone had come back in, Mrs. Alley announced that there would be a contest for whoevers map looked the nicest. As she walked around she gave nods and smiles to the other children, but when she came to peer over my shoulder she stopped. With perfect lines and strait edges my map probably seemed like a masterpiece of Van Gogh’s proportions compared to everyone else’s. It all happened rather quickly. The asking, the removing of the binder from the book shelf, the holding of the map up to the window against the original, but all throughout this process a thought formed from within my head and there was no point of return: I had not traced it. I had done it all by myself with my own hands.
For all I could have known in that moment I could have been outside the whole time with the rest of my class, but the history of the past hour was completely erased from my mind. It seems odd really, even for me to talk about the thought that I gave myself subject to and belief in, as if almost I am only recalling memories from another world or a half remembered dream. All I can remember from that moment is that from the whole moment is my whole body and being screaming “No” from every angle, every corner of the depths of my being. But she did not give in, she did not even falter. Eventually we sat alone in her room, fists clenched, face red, and eyes wet and still neither giving in. And then she turned to me and said “Ok Courtney” with the most unsatisfactory unbelieving persona that I have ever have witnessed in my life. As the car wised by the pine and cedar trees I could still feel the heat of anger come off my face.
Why didn’t she believe me? My mom crying from the driver’s seat tried to lecture and yell sense into me. She was a good mom, is and always will be. Neither she nor my father had ever taught me to “lie” or let me get away with it. The sting of getting spanked had often been upon my bum in my younger years. But I honestly didn’t know what I was doing wrong. The “lies” I was accused of making were simply given truths in my mind. And then it hit me. Like a hail storm sent from the Greek gods that fell and tore away the bond between me and my fuzzy pink fog of fantasy, the memory. The remembrance of what had really occurred in the class room a couple hours ago. My world wasn’t real, or at least the one I had been creating wasn’t in the least. The bands of the horizon in my life slowly started to unravel and integrate in front of my very eyes.
All of a sudden, from the very depths of somewhere in my being, a very distant kind of concrete place that resides behind my head, I heard a voice. Sweet and low, comforting yet powerful I heard a voice that was not of my own in my head. And it seemed to bend down and pull me close as a parent does to their kids after a thunder storm has just passed as it whispered somewhere within me, “BE ALIVE”. I started to cry, in fact rather mentally break down. And through my tear I finally gained sight of the light of day that penetrated and wished all the fuzzy thick fog of my fantasy world away.