"Daddy, I can't see anything," a young girl said. That was my own voice I heard in my dream last night. My eyes shot open and I saw that I was in my bedroom, my husband snoring next to me. It was three a.m. and it took me at least an hour to fall back asleep. As a small child, I had the same dream over and over. I was driving on a mountain road and could not see a thing and eventually went off the edge of the mountain. I would wake up right before the car hit the ground. Terrified.
I was an anxious child. Always waiting for the latest explosive fight between my parents. I hated bringing friends home. If it was a good day, my mom would say hi in her nice voice and offer to go get us something to eat. If it was a bad day, she was likely to tell me off in front of them. It wasn't worth the humiliation and eventually, I stopped having people over other than my best friends Melinda and Tracy who had learned how to navigate my mom's moods. We would laugh about it, but it wasn't a laughing matter really. Wouldn't you be embarrassed to be the girl whose dad came home drunk and fought with their crazy mom at deafening volumes? All the neighbors could hear. My sisters and I would leave and walk to the park. I remember sitting on the swings wondering why I couldn't have a normal family like the one on The Brady Bunch.
I lost myself in books. It was the place I could feel safe. My first love were the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. She had a difficult life as well albeit in a different way, There were blizzards, droughts and wild animals. And, food was always scarce on the prairie. Hunger was real there. Not like in our house where despite my family's limited finances, we always had more than enough to eat. Dad was born right after the Great Depression and lived in an orphanage and like Scarlett O' Hara, he swore he would never go hungry again. But, at least, Laura's Ma and Pa never fought like mine did. There were nights I would read by flashlight and try to imagine myself into her family. I wouldn't want to be Mary. She went blind you know.
My other love were my mom's Harlequins. I read hundreds of them along with her water stained True Story magazines. And soon, along came Nancy Drew and Judy Blume. Later, I discovered a fantasy world in the Tolkien books and CS Lewis. My favorite book in junior high was Lord of the Flies. It reminded me of my life in a way. The unpredictability of it. The fear. The chaos. I read it over and over, not able to get the image of Piggy's stolen glasses out of my head, He was blind without his glasses.
Life to me has always been an adventure. I suppose I have always imagined myself as a heroine of sorts, The narrator of my own life. There was a time when I created chaos out of nothingness, but I have eventually learned to love a more peaceful existence. I look back at it all wondering where all the time went. Have I actually reached my forties?
I wish I had a child I could read to. I would craft her stories out of thin air, filled with webs, whispers and witches, but in the evening I would make sure she was lulled to sleep in a peaceful existence. For her, the scary stories would only be fantasy, not reality.