I recently read a story that challenged all rational thoughts about imaginary friends. It took a view that sometimes, adults need to have that mystery, that sense of freedom and silliness to step outside their reality, just for a bit. Dear friends, think back to your childhood. I’ll bet you can still see the friend you had, and perhaps remember their name. Though we are all a bit too old for imaginary companions, it’s a comfort zone we embrace with our inner child. I like to think that when we are talking to ourselves, we are talking to that friend. Because after all, they live in our hearts and memories forever.
When I was three, you came to my tea party. A special guest, you brought all the good stuff. We laughed and ate mud pies and drank water from the garden hose. We swung on the canvas swing in the crabapple tree out back. You understood my sadness, but never asked questions. You understood. You played freely and happily, making me smile.
When I was six, you sat next to me on the big yellow school bus. You knew I needed your strength and courage, because I was scared to go it alone. You even stayed next to me at recess, bouncing my pink Spalding off the wall with me while the other kids played tag and red rover.
When I was ten, you shared my bunk at camp. We snuggled under the covers, me terrified, you holding me, comforting me. You kept me sane when I would have melted from the tears. You showed me hidden pathways in the woods and how to hang upside down from the bleachers. You whispered to me all the goodies I had to requesting care packages. Some of those things were a little out there old friend. But it’s alright, it was camp.
When I was eleven we moved. I came home from camp to find out home packed and ready to go. Where were you? I was terrified that you wouldn’t be around, or you would get lost and not be able to find me. But you came along, sharing my new dreams and encouraging me. We shared secrets of the heart – the hurts, the prepubescent angst and silly songs. We played endless games of jacks and pick up sticks. You always let me win.
When I was sixteen, you stood with me at my party. I was embarrassed. The DJ hitting on my classmates, and the girls too shy to dance. And it wasn’t my music. You gave me courage to wander and watch the game while still seeming the perfect hostess. You stayed by me while half my guests left to go to the other party. I didn’t really care all that much, but it was still painful. Later that summer, you joined me overseas. I wasn’t sure you’d make it, but we hiked mountains and swam the seas together. We watched the stars from the damp pasture in peaceful solitude. We explored the cobbled streets and ancient sites. You had my back and gave me the strength to make some new friends.
When I was eighteen I started college. You guided me to the right extracurricular activities. We stood side by side at protests and you complimented my artwork. You came dancing with me and watched, happy to dance alongside in the shadows. You pledged with me, drank upside down margaritas and scolded me for my naive stupidity. It’s OK, I was nauseous enough without your “told you so’s.”
When I was 20, I moved overseas, and I forgot about you. I walked alone or with groups of newfound friends. I climbed through ruined castles and walked enchanted forests. I forgot to miss you.
Life carried on and I walked the meandering paths alone. Yet in my times of sadness and fear, I missed you. I wondered if there was a special place you went to meditate, or if you just found someone new. Someone younger, fresher, more needy.
At twenty seven I got married. You came to my wedding, and danced with me. I was surprised but happy. You slipped quietly into the packed car as we drove off to our new life on Love Lane. You were silent, but I was happy knowing you were once again with me. It made everything so much more tolerable.
Like bubbles, you are airy and light, I cannot touch you. Once my babies came along you left me. I think this time for good. I know others need you too. That’s your job. But I wanted a lifetime.
Yesterday I was scared and lonely. You were gone for ages. I went for a walk, and I glimpsed you. Your smile radiated within my soul. It was a remembered hug, a feeling of security and peace. But you have moved on. You belong to someone else now.
We were friends for a very long time, and I don’t, or can’t, see you anymore. You stayed close by as long as you were able. A whisper away when I needed that feeling of support, you were heaven sent.
And now my sappy, yet incredibly amazing and creative readers, reach back to your past. Embrace the ideals of your imagination and realize that we all have the potential to be more than we are. Yes, you read that correctly. We can be anyone we want to be. Make that person full of light, laughter and kindness. Be mindful. Be peaceful. Be caffeinated and motivated.