I Fell Asleep Beneath the Flowers For a Couple of Hours On a Beautiful Day

I am an extroverted introvert who has always enjoyed the space inside my head. I have frequently said I could be relatively content in prison given time to myself, books and maybe a sundry of art supplies. Oh, and freedom from random shiv shanking. My husband has told me more than once that this ability to withstand confinement coupled with the fact that I watch so much Forensic Files scares him a little. Just don't do anything bad I tell him, and you don't have anything to worry about. Sure, I'd miss the outside world but my imagination would make a fine companion for ten to life.

I grew up an only child and an avid daydreamer. Stacks of books took me far past the borders of the city where I grew up. Books gave me the pieces to build upon. When I was young, most of my daydreams took on different forms of wish fulfillment. I was a jet-set fashion designer, a symphony conductor, a foreign double agent and even a ballerina, never mind I'm only five foot tall. I was Karen Von Blixen on a coffee plantation in Kenya, going on safaris, learning to use a gun. I was the muse Kira from Xanadu skating figure eights in my basement, the soundtrack booming from my giant 1980s boombox. I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins, Francie struggling for a better life in Brooklyn.

Many of my reveries wreaked of the dramatic. I was never very graceful but I can sing so many of my fantasies were my own little musicals, put on in my bedroom for no one else but me, and maybe a reliably unimpressed house cat. Think one part theater, one part the Judy Miller Show. Put on the soundtrack to Evita and I was Eva atop a balcony addressing the little people. I think I wore clear through my vinyl copy of the Grease soundtrack. I would tease my hair, put on slutty clothes pilfered from my moms closet, slip on my red Candies and stand in front of my mirror with one of my mom's unlit Winston lights dangling from my lips. Tell me about it stud. True to girly-girl form, every daydream had an accompanying outfit.

Once in awhile, someone else was let into this usually personal reverie. Ask my cousin about the impromptu operas I performed for her. Scarves tied to our heads babushka style, I'd sing/talk about being taken from our parents in Russia(no we're not Russian) and being forced to be slaves of a prince, or labourers in a work camp. I'd see the expression on her face at first was one of skepticism and mild embarrassment but it quickly turned in to full scale buy-in as she tightened her babushka and lamented with me about the mother country. I think my mom might have made me watch Doctor Zhivago one too many times. Even as we got older and the “operas” stopped, she'd still call me a couple of times a week at bedtime and make me sing to her over the telephone until she fell asleep. I guess that could be considered a delayed standing ovation.

Now that I'm older with a husband, three kids, two cats, one dog, a mortgage, a small business and more, many of my daydreams have been replaced by anxiety dreams. Daydreaming as a child was probably the result of plenty of time on my hands and an active imagination. My adult anxiety thoughts are no doubt the result of not enough time on my hands and that same active imagination. Now I worry less about the monsters under my bed and more about the dust mites. Did I leave the wax warmer on when I left the spa? Is it burning down at this moment, the fire trucks littering the street to hose down the inferno. A florist five businesses down got held up at gunpoint a year ago. I wonder what if they had hit my spa and found me and my massage therapist instead of a doughy, overweight gay bear peddling petals? Are my children getting enough DHA, Omega 3s? I hope that toy the bebe is chewing on doesn't have lead in it, damn the grandparents and their Big Lots, Chinese imported, lead ridden, foot gouging, room cluttering, car littering crap.

Thanks to 9/11, the fact that our house is in a relatively busy airport pattern, and probably too many Donnie Darko/Weeds viewings, I have visions of planes careening through our roof. I worry about my husband being hit and smushed accordion style in the crazy L.A. rush hour traffic. I follow a truck with steel pipes battened in and I ponder decapitation by steel pipe before switching lanes. I think about people breaking into my house and taking my children, Darfur, unequal education opportunities, poverty, peacekeeping, climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem losses, oceanic dead zones, child sex rings and world hunger. Don't get me wrong, I don't obsess and I'm not at the point where my anxiety requires medication, well more medication. It's just that I have so much now that I have so much to lose. The dangers of the real world are so much scarier than the stuff that worried me as a kid.

Now my wish fulfillment daydreams are saved for my frequent bouts of insomnia. As my husband lay next to me, still save for his rhythmic breathing, and the kids are safely tucked into their beds, and the dog lays on her cushion in the corner of our room and the cats are curled up on any one of the beds of my children, this is when I feel calm enough to dream bigger. I'm not Sandi or Francie or Ludmila anymore but I do see myself doing the things I hope one day I will. I see myself travelling around the world with my husband. I see a time in the future where I have some time to myself again, time to read, to draw, to meander through a day with nothing to do. I see my children grown and healthy, happy living their own lives, being their own people. I see myself holding my grandchildren, released from the responsibility of raising them right, free to spoil them relentlessly to my children's chagrin. I see myself a few years from now, walking up to a podium at a small bookstore to give a reading. I see my husband and I, hitting each milestone in our life together, our relationship morphing to fit the changes in our lives. I see myself calmer, mellowed with age, wizened with experience, though I'm pretty sure I will always avoid those giant steel pipe carrying trucks.

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A Free Man said... February 11, 2010 at 7:54 PM  

This is absolutely wonderful and I'm really glad to see something from you. I was missing your presence in the blogosphere.

I was going to say that my daydreams have stayed dreams and never made the transition to anxiety dreams. But the more I read the more I realized that wasn't true.

Arizaphale said... February 12, 2010 at 12:01 AM  

Are you related to my mother? When we were digging in my back garden in the UK she was terrified we would uncover an unexploded WWII bomb. When my dad first went through the Channel Tunnel she worried it would spring a leak.....now she phones me when I'm on my way home to check...if I'm on my way home!!!! Stick with your visions of grandchildren and world travel. Worry and anxiety never prevented anything. But you know that :-)
Lovely piece. Get the podium ready.

Shelley said... February 12, 2010 at 10:05 AM  

Hand to God - even though you and I are both only children - in some alternate universe, we are twins.

Lucky for you, you had a cousin to reveal the real you behind the green curtain. I couldn't possibly reveal all of inner world to anyone. Ever. It's just too much.

Oh, and BTW? You and Forsenic Files? Me and Criminal Minds. Maybe we could be cellmates. I promise you the only thing I'd carve from a bar of soap is a chachke for the windowsill...

Heather J. said... February 14, 2010 at 6:52 PM  

Sweetheart......this particular piece really makes me yearn for your friendship and quirkiness locally. You are by far, the best writer ever. Your creativity continues to amaze me. Your voice always did, as well as your artistic abilities. xoxo

Blues said... February 15, 2010 at 9:40 AM  

Gorgeous post Chris. So real and from the heart.

Denise ;) said... February 18, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

Francie and the Nolan family!! I loved that book! I first read it when I was around 12 years old. Over my lifetime I have probably reread it 4 or 5 times.

I enjoy your blog and will be back for more entertainment.
Denise ;)

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