Monday, December 7, 2015
What fears aren't mine, but yours?
What have I carried for you, but have forgotten to put down?
I always had places in my home that I could hide in.
In the late 80's it was easy for me to scale over the edge of the wooden toy box and layer a menagerie of glow worms, cabbage patch kids, and carebears over and around me like an encoffined babe.
By the time that I was six, I had learned to seamlessly disappear from the watch of my sisters and parents and I made a home in the cypress pine tree in the backyard. A miniature door was constructed out of some scrap metal propped up against the far reaching tree branches and the side of the fence, and unbeknownst to the rest of the world that little door created a magic portal into a space of unyielding potential. My memories of others joining me in the tree are few, bar a handful of friends from kindergarten that complained of the itchy needles scratching their skin and my sister Deb, who was rapidly growing bored of my style of play being five years my senior. I suspect her absence in the tree house was also due to her being hyper aware of my proximity to her Ninja Turtle card collection which she protected with a matching strength of Poseidon over his Seas.
I'd carefully hung 'ornaments' made out of trash in the branches and intended for them to signify different levels of the cubby. Winding around the trunk in a circular fashion you could easily make your way up through each 'room' to the roof of the house and sit up there, undisturbed, to watch the clouds take the shapes of my Enid Blyton book characters. Eventually, I was banned from the tree because I was covered in scratches and itchy bites, which my parents put down to fleas from the birds that lived within my sanctuary.
My mothers closet soon became a place of wonder. I would gently slide open each drawer in her dresser, with it's wobbly plastic ornamental handles, and innocently sniff each silky nightie or pair of socks. Though laundered, they smelt of her. Often I'd find a block of Cadbury's hazelnut chocolate, with it's purple paper wrap, in the drawer that she thought I couldn't reach. I'd wonder why she didn't want to share with us, to keep this happiness to herself, but I'd never dare to break a row off in the belief that I'd never catch her out in a sneak again.
One particular item of treasure was a blue vinyl cosmetic case that mum hid behind the shoes on the floor of the wardrobe. It could be locked via the strap across the top of the case which clipped in to a close, however Mum never bothered with the key, much to my delight. Inside was a mix of old Avon cosmetics, pearl pink lipsticks with cracked lids that smelt of glycerine soap and blue eyeshadow pallets rarely given their opportunity to shimmer. But thrown into the mix of powders and primers were a few tattered photos from Mum's younger years, old Christmas bon-bon prizes which would fascinate for hours and some clip on earrings that I'd put on and then rip off thinking that they would somehow leave an evidential scar. I would spend what seemed like hours lifting each trinket out of the case, imagining it's life out of the closet, and then putting each one back carefully before clicking closed the clasp. Imagining what it would be like to be a woman was more challenging than imagining myself as a Diplodocus, and I'm not sure if all that time imagining, literally hiding in the closet under the skirts, prepared me for the realities of my born gender.