When I was a little girl, living in Redondo Beach, California, I had imaginary friends. My imaginary friends didn’t hang around me all the time, taking an entire seat at the dinner table or playing ball with me out in the yard. That would have been too much for me, too obvious to everyone else. And anyway, who would want just another normal kid around to be your imaginary friend when you could have anyone or anything you wanted? My friends lived in the fragrant, towering eucalyptus tree that shaded the front of my white stucco home. And they were fairies. In that eucalyptus, among the ribbed branches and intoxicating leaves, flitted a whole world of fairies. I won’t get into the exact social structure I created in my head, but suffice to say, there were characters. And they had adventures. In the gentle salty sunshine I would lay under that tree, and stare up at the glittering foliage, and write stories in my head about their universe. They had a great time. Vacations in my neighbor’s kumquat tree, days holding onto the gray fins of dolphins skimming the surface of the nearby ocean, even time travel. Definitely no elementary school. Definitely no crusts on their sandwiches. I had those small creatures help me through bad days at a new school, sit on my hand and tell me what it was like to be able to fly, and occasionally, only on very scary nights, a couple would tell me stories perched on the headboard of my bed.

It is only when you are seven years old that you can do this and not be committed to an institution. My world of fairies flew away when I was nine, around the time I realized with sinking surety that Santa’s handwriting looked an awful lot like Dad’s. But I realized today that I am not really…er…cured of my runaway imagination.

Sometimes when I put coffee in my mug, and it reflects the fluorescent lights in its mahogany surface…I replace those glowing tubes with a luminous full moon. I’m in the Wild West, drinking coffee from a battered tin mug, exhausted from a day of being a certifiable bad ass on the range. Like a Louis L’Amour character, refusing to ride side saddle, tying my hair in a braid that slaps my back in the wind, and urging my trusty steed (because I would definitely have a trusty steed) through the clay canyons stained in sunset.

Just like that I was seven years old again, willing to drop my eleven o’clock meeting to lay on the blue green carpet, pretend a Sharpie was a revolver, and that my ergonomic chair was the Alamo.

That doesn’t happen very often, anymore. I don’t often trust the world in my head, or rather, the worlds in my head. And there are many vast ones, parallel universes where I am a war hero, a lady knight in disguise, even sometimes a damsel in distress (this image often plays out when I get my energy bill). Instead of nurturing these limitless places in my own head, I am told to turn to movies, and television. After a while, though, it feels like I’m being force fed my imagination. Instead of using my real world to aid my creativity, all this blind media provides an escape that turns my brain off, throws a blanket over it until it’s warm and complacent and the trees outside are just trees, and what’s on the screen is the only way to see anything new.

I watched that new Zooey Deschanel television show, The New Girl, a few days go. The characters were trite, the humor begging for the aid of a laugh track (never a good sign when TV has to tell its audience when the jokes are), the dialogue stilted, the plot hurried and suffering from a case of ADHD. I turned it off, and through the window, I stared up at the smiling moon. Hey,  does my front lawn look like an open range to you, too?

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