if i were a superhero i would be What If Woman, and my superpower would be to switch up your reality with the possible realities that keep you awake at night. because i know how debilitating that is. it is something i am really good at. i'd call it a game except there isn't really anything fun about it. even the best ones "what if i won a lot of money?" eventually end with the POP of reality...oh wait, i don't have that money.
i used to get so deep into this that i would wind up crying...with real tears streaming down my face...over a "what if" that wasn't happening. see, i got this morbid streak. i remember driving home late at night with nothing but my what ifs to keep me awake. and then suddenly i'd go "oh wait, a plane didn't crash into my house and kill everyone i love!" <shuddering sigh of relief followed by worried analyzing of my psyche>
i recognized that this was not a healthy use of imagination. it was like my imagination was a caged beast. a muse gone wrong from neglect. does yours get like this?
i learned not to make up stories about my life or about anyone in my life. which got kinda boring, honestly. there was - there is- so much material to use! and my muse still tapping on the bars of her cage demanding to be let loose.
which is part of the reason i started this blog. unleashing the muse with her wild hair and sneering laugh. she's a good one, mind you, but not so easy to predict. her comings and goings are random, at best. damn sneaky some of the time.
it's also why i started making up stories in my head about different fictional characters. they all start with a feeling i've had or with someone i knew at one point or a curiosity about mixing up people in odd situations or a place that creeped me out. like rest stops along the interstate.
i once went on a road trip through many states in a trooper i called Basheba. i saw things in rest stops, felt things in rest stops that just made my skin crawl. and so i started to wonder, what would happen if a young teen girl, like that one student i had- the one who had no impulse control because she had fetal alcohol effect- what if someone like her was here in this rest stop in the middle of night? what if her friends, hiding out in an station wagon, told her to try to steal a purse from that wealthy looking white woman going into the restroom with a coach bag? what if the girl did try to do this, but ended up getting abandoned by her friends when they took off after the white lady inadvertently gave the girl a black eye by opening the bathroom stall quickly just as the girl was reaching over the door to take her purse off the hook? what if that woman wasn't rich at all- but had to borrow her dead mother's handbag because she had lost hers in the airport on her way to her mother's funeral? and what if these two characters wind up having to drive 500 miles together because the woman wanted desperately to try to save this girl and because the girl wanted just be somewhere else than where she was?
really- that is so much more interesting than "what if i had joined the peace corp in college?"
all i ever wanted to do was tell stories, write stories. i've done lots of other things and enjoyed them- but right here, write here- this is how i process life, share life, enjoy life. no one ever denied me this. except me.
that's the real rub.
somewhere i decided that being a writer wasn't enough. solid enough? or that i wasn't good enough? i don't know, but my muse mutated slowly over time so that instead of writing stories that fed my soul she just spun stories tearing myself apart.
i wonder if other people do this twisting thing to their gifts. i wonder if the person who carves designs into their skin is yearning to sculpt marble. i wonder if we hide from our passion because we fear that it will be too much, so we try to squash it down into something that fits this small vision of ourselves that we've been sold for so long. this idea that whatever we do has to eventually be judged or have value.
the ways we flatten ourselves- and the ways we learn to grow back into that multi-dimensional being- those are the stories i love to hear, the stories i want to tell. it is the story that i am living. right now, write now.