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I read this evening in CS Lewis’ autobiography Surprised by Joy that Lewis spent most of his childhood in his imagination. I’ve always felt ashamed that most of my childhood was spent in the same place. Certain social consequences can become of this. It was pleasant to hear Lewis’ admission—it made me feel just a bit more relaxed about a childhood spent (mostly) by myself.

My childhood, like Lewis’, was spent in many places.

Place number one was the back patio of my Central Austin home. The back patio was not a patio. It was a gas station and pool hall. Anyone could take their tricycle in and fill it with hose water (the water spilled straight onto the concrete since the trike had no gas container, but I recall dismissing this). Next to the fill-up station was a pool table. I beat many a trike-rider at that table, though no one actually came to my station.

Place number two was my upstairs bedroom. Its carpet was the scene of many disasters—all of which destroyed small communities of wooden blocks and Matchbox cars. The communities would slowly grow from a fire hall or rural home into a medium-sized town. The community would then be blind-sided by hurricanes (a hair dryer), meteors (flying pennies), massive auto accidents (a series of irresponsible Matchbox drivers), and bombs (usually accomplished manually). These put a strain on the community’s emergency response system—a fleet of specially-bought Matchbox rescue vehicles.

Place number three was my front yard and, just across the street, a cul-de-sac called Kingwood Cove. The yard was the site of many bizarre occurrences: Green Bay’s triumph over Minnesota on a frozen tundra (me, a Brett Favre jersey, a football, and air temperatures in the 40s); glacial runoff (hose water running down a tarp-covered pop-up camper, re-shaping the tarp as the invisible glacier “melted”); the battle of the Alamo (wooden blocks, plastic pedestrians, marble cannons); a “Quaffle” tournament (me, a tennis racket, a tennis ball, playing a fictional game governed by well thought out rules, running up and down Kingwood Cove hitting a tennis ball into thin air and dodging imaginary opponents).

It is difficult to conceive I’m even remotely sociable after so many years spent inside myself. I’ve exhausted myself articulating these things, and I haven’t even mentioned the hundreds of fictional communities I’ve developed on paper—my maps. My childhood has nurtured in me a profound imagination. At this point in my life, I must strive to make sure I keep nurturing it. I would hate to lose it.


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