On the first of September I moved out of my childhood home for what I’m hoping is the last time. There’s been half starts, quick stops, and almosts, but I think this one is for good. As it should be. I’m ringing in year 25 on Friday and I just don’t fit into that bedroom anymore. And it’s not that I couldn’t wait to get away from my family. Say what you want about Millennials (and people like to say a lot), but overall I think our generation has a much better relationship with our parents.
No, I’ve always just needed a quiet place of my own to imagine. When I was a kid, that bedroom was perfect. I spent hours on that floor making Beanie Babies tribes and scattering Barbie Doll clothes all over. Drawing pictures of Neopets and unicorns, stocking my shelves full of Harry Potter and Little Golden books. Playing pretend with my imaginary friends Maleficent and Gaston (I told you I always loved villains). Making family trees for all the characters in my head, things I still laugh at when I find them buried in a pile of papers in my desk.
My imagination spilled all over the house; to the computer, where I built Utopian zoos on Zoo Tycoon and dynasties on The Sims; to the living room, where my sister and I would get out her fake cash register and build a mall between the couches (it’s like we knew we’d spend way too many years working retail); to the backyard where I was always hanging out of a tree; to the street where our garage turned into a bike shop and the cul-de-sac was our race track.
Most people outgrow all of that imagining, but I never wanted to. At different points in my life, I’ve despised growing up and looked forward to it, envied those who were doing it better than me and shook my head at the people who couldn’t get it together. But the people I envied most were the ones who toed the line between childhood and adulthood, in perpetuity. Not adults who acted like children, but children who grew into adults without losing that childlike imagination. Who assimilated but didn’t lose the ability to disappear into fantasy.
The older I got, the less I felt like I had room to imagine, but somewhere in that bedroom I started to write things down. I didn’t like journaling, but I liked turning my feelings into words. That love grew, and grew, and grew, even as the room I had to imagine in began to shrink. School and friends and family and responsibilities took up so much space. Good space, never something I regretted, but it filled in so much of my time that it pressed my imagination to the corner.
Then, one day, I just started to write. I had this story in my head that had stuck with me a for awhile, and I started to write it down. It was awful, but I loved it. I love it now, even when I want to throw my computer across the room, even when I’m sure it will never see the light of day. Mostly when I manage to string a few perfect words together. But the thing that has helped me write more than anything is space.
Creativity loves solitude. It loves the quiet. It loves the space. And that’s what I have here, now. A space of my own to start imagining in again. A place where I can be both child and adult, young and wise, eight and twenty-five.