For those who lack the proverbial “thicker skin,” growing older means watching the seasons erode the scaffolding of fantasy. I was a sensitive child and remain a fragile creature. My world exists within the same physical realm of those around me, yet is set apart and swarming with vibrational daydreams. Yesterday I read that a supermarket in the town where I spent every childhood summer has closed. I’m sure many felt sad to read it. I felt momentarily paralyzed. In my parallel reality, this was the place I reserved for “growing up”– whenever I would finally decide to do, it I planned to escape, work there and live in my cottage on the lake. Not only was a piece of my childhood closing, but so, too a piece of my future. So, too, yet another physical door to fantasy. While slamming shut it hit me how disconnected and distanced I float along my wobbly timeline.
There is a door in the kitchen of the cottage. I remember feeling goosebumps trail down my arms at the sight of it being left open to the stormy air. There was a screen door behind it and I could see the trees and some laundry drying on the line. Someday I would hang my grown-up things on that line. I would look out the screen window while doing dishes and wipe down the marble table that came from an ice cream shop that closed. I would take bubble baths in the claw bathtub and put on my makeup in the mirror of the antique medicine cabinet. I’d have dinner parties lit by moonlight on the deck and keep everyone alive with lots of music. I’d sleep with the grown-up man in the bedroom lined with windows overlooking the lake and wake up to the smell and sound of the shoreline.
There was an art gallery where I planned to sell my paintings and an outdoor stage where I would sing my songs and walk barefoot in the grass. I’d walk on the beach at Lake Michigan and watch the sunset every night. Friday nights I’d meet him at the end of the pier. Is there anything more wonderful than this? I’ve been ever so afraid and unwilling to pack up and pursue it because doing so might ruin it. It’s perfection and soothing to my childlike soul. I’m innocent and free there. Love still exists and troubles are washed away by the waves.
I stand there in my grown body from time to time. I look at the lighthouse and breathe in the charged and velvet air. If there is any place where I might set up shop and feel fulfilled, then only there. The sugar sand is gentle and giving; boats pass in and out through the channel. When I wave at them they always wave back and smile. No one can resent me on a moving vessel from a distance. It’s safe.
It seems I don’t exist apart from there. I live a fragmented and confused daily life. I don’t know who I am when my heart lives far away, pulsing at the top of the lighthouse tower and my needs are strewn in the dunes. When a building is torn down it is my bones, getting weak with age. When a new shop opens it is young and bustling life, overstimulating and confusing to an aging woman.
I have to learn to be brave and embrace what is. I have to allow others into my perfect parallel universe and feel enlivened rather than threatened by their realness. I have to let love evolve as a conscious force and not restrain it in the confines of my own imagination. I have to be brave enough to allow deviation and unmet expectations and cherish what stands before me. I have to talk to some of the people on the boats in real life and invite them into my realm. I have to learn to let go, let things change, wash away and materialize anew. That’s what the waves are for. Things change. That’s what the sand is for. Time passes.