My twin brother and I shared a bedroom when we were little tykes. He had the upper bunk, but I joined him at 8 in the evening. Because, even though we were supposed to be fast asleep, our next-door neighbors were watching Zorro.
At the age of five, Zorro was my hero. We couldn’t hear the dialogue of the latest episode over the neighbor’s fence and through their picture window, but that wasn’t necessary for a kindergartner. All that was needed to help me fill in the facts of the story were black capes and masks, a beautiful black horse, and lots of horsey chase scenes.
After the program ended, I’d climb back into my bottom bunk and make up stories about my caped hero for another hour or two. (I had insomnia even then.)
A year or two later, my parents started watching the TV program, Dr. Kildare. I was too young to stay up and watch the dashing and compassionate doctor. But through sneaked trips to the kitchen for a drink of water, I got occasional glimpses of my new hero. Oh, I had such a crush on Dr. Kildare, AKA Richard Chamberlain.
From my bunk bed, even though I couldn’t see the program, I could hear the dialogue. After the program, I’d imagine stories where I was Dr. Kildare’s faithful nurse/assistant.
In elementary school, I fell in love with poetry. Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost. (I wasn’t ready for Keats or Tennyson yet.) In my bedroom, shared by my older sister, I composed my own poems late into the night.
In high school I became fascinated by war stories and famous battles. ( I know, it seems like a strange thing for a teenaged girl to be interested in.) My library books educated me about the gruesomeness of war, but also provided me with fodder for some pretty dramatic historical fiction.
I’ve always found the quiet of late nights, coupled with the solitariness of a time when family members make no demands, to be my nocturne.
Just me and my bed, my brain, and the images, situations, conflicts, rescues, chases, and mysteries collected from treasured books and movies and poems. They form die pieces which are cast out onto the mental game board in new combinations, my dreams a sometime-contributor to the pieces.
I hope I have enough time left to type them all out of my brain.
“Imagination is the highest kite that can fly.” (Lauren Bacall)