My ability to differentiate between reality and imaginary has always been questionable. My childhood was a test of my parents’ patience and endurance, peppered with invisible friends, the She-ra incident*, and a fantasy life so vivid people never knew when I was telling the truth or my truth.
I haven’t really ever outgrown this, though now I write my invisible friends’ stories on paper and try not to flinch when I have to refer to it as fiction.
Sometimes the boundary line blurs a bit.
Last night was comprised of NOsleep and THUNDERstorms. The first can be blamed on finishing my first revision pass on my WIP. I’d done a little I-love-this-book dance, E-mailed it to my first reader, then panicked. I wanted it back. What if it wasn’t loved? What if I wanted to change something? But mostly I missed it.
I trudged up to bed feeling achy, not just because of the ear-infection-that-won’t-end, but because I’d sent my story out and it didn’t feel as much mine anymore. I couldn’t protect it.
That’s when the THUNDERstorms began.
I tried to ignore them. Three hours later I was still trying to ignore them, but now the corners of the room looked ominous and the slumbering-puggle-breath on my calf was making me twitchy.
I surrendered to 4:30 AM and decided to start my day with elliptical-hour and a new book.
Sleep-deprivation smears that real/imaginary boundary. I don’t think the ear-infection vertigo or the new antibiotics help either. And the book**…
It clung in my head all day, wisps of plot/characters floating up as I set about going through the motions of pretending to be rested and mentally present.
I came home and dove on it – spending the after work hours intermittently dozing and reading; finishing my nap and the book as the sky began to darken.
But I didn’t feel like I could completely wake or disengage. I was disoriented – the world was settling down as I was getting up and St. Matt wanted my attention while I wanted to retreat and contemplate.
“Too bad it’s dark and raining, I could use a run.”
“Tiffany, it’s not raining.”
“What?” I wandered out on the porch. He was right. It wasn’t raining. It hadn’t rained. Nothing was wet. Disorientation increased exponentially.
I took a reflection-walk in the non-rain. The book swirling in big arcs through my head, its themes mirroring my sense of disconnection. How much of our reality is imposed versus how much is created? Is one version right and another wrong? Who controls what we see, believe, perceive? And if we’re all experiencing things differently and in so many ways, is it possible to ever understand someone else? Yet we pass judgement on others’ realities all-the-time.
The woman approaching on the sidewalk startled me. I’d been absorbed in my envisioned vs. encountered debate about reality and hadn’t heard her– despite the fact that she was juggling two panting doggies and their corresponding *ahem* baggies.
“Hi,” I nodded and smiled and she mirrored my actions, passing by with a tug on the leashes.
If it weren’t for the slight twist of her head and the side of amused grin, I might have remained oblivious, but I caught her second glance and looked down.
I’m wearing pajamas. More specifically, bright blue pajama pants decorated with palm-sized cartoon reindeer.
Awareness rushed back in with a flood of blood to my cheeks. And riding on the tide of embarrassment came clarity too.
Reality is both envisioned AND encountered. Maybe in my case, the imaginary paints with a more dominant stroke, but I’m okay with it. As long as I keep a tangential grasp on the facts – i.e. we no longer set a place at the dinner table for Harvey – I’m okay with believing my world is how I create it. Believing that people are good, that happily ever after is achievable, and that miracles happen. I’m okay with ignoring the times that these beliefs have been proven wrong and believing that what lies ahead is as wondrous as the stories within my head.
And wearing pajamas for a stroll around the neighborhood? I’m okay with that too. Even if they’re Christmas ones and even if it’s June.
*This deserves a blog post of its own someday
** No, I'm not telling which book. But I hope you're lucky enough to experience it someday soon.