In the sixth grade I was absolutely certain that Jordan Knight was coming to my b-day party. This hope, and my great expectations for my 11th b-day was one of many great expectations that led to even greater disappointment.
Growing up with a crazy imagination lent itself to many wonderful perks. I could pretty much make a time machine out of anything. I was able to invent, write, treasure hunt and pretty much imagine myself anywhere. It gave me hours of entertainment. It allowed me to turn choose your own adventure books and small carpets in my bedroom into machine carpet rides to far away lands. It convinced me that the granite rock in our back yard was a fossilized dinosaur that produced diamonds. It allowed me to make potpourri with friends, bug spray for my dog and even an attempt at a business, clown magicians for my cousin's b-day parties.
I spent hours searching through my house for secret passages. I still hope there may be something I missed. I remember in my bedroom there was a corner where the two walls weren't 100% flush against one another. I was certain there was a secret passage back there and much more certain that it probably led to Macho Man's hiding place.
Who is Macho Man, you ask? Macho Man was a man that I was convinced lived in the woods behind my house. I can still see him when I close my eyes. To this day, I am not so sure what he was. I am not sure if he was solely my imagination; if he was a ghost, that my friends and I were able to see; or, if it was a real person that started this all. I remember seeing him in the woods behind my house often. Then again, I feel like I saw many monsters in my bedroom over the years. Macho Man was dressed in a black cape. He was pretty much all "black." Now when I say this, I honestly am not sure that I mean African American. That is something I was never quite sure about. I just remember him being dressed in all black. Black cape, black pants and a black hat. Not like a black top hat, or a black baseball cap, but like a black more pointy version of an Indian Jones type hat. More spy like, though. I can see it when I close my eyes, but I cannot really explain it. I could draw it for you, if I was able to draw it for you all.
I can also remember going to the field behind Whitin. There use to be a little pipe back there and some run off water that came out of it. I would go back there all the time. I use to swear it was another world. My friends and I would go back there and the wind would pick up and the trees would sway back and forth. I would swear things were there. To this day, I am not so sure what, but I sensed something. It was probably just my imagination. Like Grey Rock mansion, that was another place where I just sensed things, my wild imagination would take over and I would be whisked away to the hey day when it was a real operating mansion, full with outdoor glassed-in pool.
When I was little I use to have these repeating dreams, all the time. To this day, I am convinced they were memories of past lives.
I cannot claim to have accomplished all of this on my own. I had some amazing friends right there with me. Friends that helped me chase Macho Man, search for secret passages, go on magic carpet rides and change washing machines into time machines. I had great expectations every day, because every day my imagination allowed me to live in this world where anything was truly possible. I was able to live in the fantastic, imaginary world. This all worked wonders for me until it got to the point where I realized my imagination wasn't real.
As I got older, it all became a bit more difficult to use my imagination to escape to wonderful and amazing places with out of this world things. As I got older and got my heart broken, it wasn't as easy to have a magic carpet ride solve my problems, or have my hunts for buried treasure make me smile. The older I got, the less useful my imagination became. It started to become something that would make me feel disappointed again and again. I would have these grand visions of things. I would build up these great expectations for everything, every dance, every b-day party and every relationship I had. I would set myself up for failure and disappointment again and again. I would have these perfect expectations and scenarios that I would totally plan out in my mind. I knew how things would end up, I knew what would happen, because I had this wild imagination and I honestly believed in my hearts of hearts that anything was possible. I believed this because when I was little, my imagination told me that anything was possible if I thought about it hard enough.
As I grew up and my imagination didn't seem to do the same thing for me any more and I continued to be disappointed because my life wasn't meeting my great expectations, I began to shut down. I began to no longer imagine, I began to try not to think about grand things because I felt like I just continued to be hurt again and again and again. It felt like my imagination brought me nothing but pain and heartache. It made me doubt myself and my dreams. I feel like imagination is something that you need to foster and nurture. If you don't use it as much, if you don't keep it dusted off and active, it goes away. It becomes more challenging to be creative, to be imaginative. For years I shut down my imagination. It isn't that I didn't have dreams, obviously I did, it is just that it was a part of me that I was afraid of. I was afraid of just being disappointed again and again. I was afraid of having the big huge hopes. I was afraid of having great or perhaps even unrealistic expectations.
So, back to where this all started out. Jordan Knight did not come to my 11th b-day, Jake Ryan did not kiss me on the table at my 16th b-day party, I did not become a famous astronomer, I never found a buried treasure, I never became a skinny, hot girl that everyone wanted, I never was prom queen, I never made BayState, I never got to be the person I thought I wanted to be. For so long, this all had me so sad. Sometimes some of it still does. I still wonder what would have happened if I turned into the person I used to imagine myself being as a little kid. The person I thought I wanted to be....
What I realize today, is that at the young age of 33, there are so many of my great expectations that are so much more important that can still come true. The person I once imagined is not the person I was meant to be. I need to stop being so afraid of having great expectations today. I need to realize and remember that my imagination is one of my greatest assets I have, I need to not be so afraid of failure, because my imagination is the only thing that keeps me moving forward. It brings words to me, it brings poems to me, it brings ideas to me.
I used to believe that all things were possible. Part of the reason I love science, especially astronomy and physics is because it makes it truly feel like anything is possible. There is so much we do not understand and do not even know. What is it, 96% of the universe is made up of things we do not understand (Dark Energy and Dark matter) how magical does that sound. To someone with a wild imagination it is field day.
I have been fearful of my imagination for so long, from disappointment to nighttime fears and shadows. I have often talked about how my imagination is wonderful and amazing while the sun is up, but scary and petrifying as the sun goes down.
I am hopeful that my expectations of myself will continue to be great. That I will no longer be afraid to imagine and dream.
Cheers to a life of Great Expectations.....
And that's all she wrote....