It’s Christmas Eve. My most memorable was in Alaska (Girdwood) when my mother finangled a fat, white-haired, good natured man to find 9 reindeer and a sleigh filled with a bunch of prettyly wrapped, probably empty boxes. I was in third grade; my brother was in kindergarden. When Mom woke us up at some ungodly hour–like 12:00, she said, “Look kids; Santa has come.” Through the balcony we cheered and waved–Santa laughed and waved back and rode away on a snow covered street. After that–and for years, if anyone denied the existence of Santa, my brother would fathfully rebuff with, “Well have you seen him? I have.”
Now I had no problem with the myth of Santa (I already checked out Mom wrapping/hiding presents long before). The Easter Bunny was a no brainer, and something about the Tooth Fairy was just wrong. I don’t think I told my brother all this. We were too busy taking care of Samoyed puppies, and, of course (sigh) school, and skiing (My brother invented snow boarding in the early 70’s he was fearless), and We eventually lived in an A-framed small cabin in a community of no more than 200–mostly all were deep in the woods. The Dawkins had 7 kids but had no running water, electricity, or indoor toilet–just to let you know. But Alaska had a gift for serving up imagination (more important than knowledge I hear–thank you Professor Einstein), and I ate it up. Santa may be a fraud, but the wild ponies I ran with were not. There were about 12 blue eyed, shaggy small ponies that would eat the berries I fed them, and if I ran, they would herd around me and run. Imagination attained. My first horse story was , then it was on to Walter Farley’s, The Black Stallion.
And I knew this connection between the boy Alex and the Black to be true, not only because of the ponies, but 30 years later, I flew on a red racing stallion across a freshly plowed, thus open territoried, soon to be planted, field of heaven. I tried so hard to hang on to his withers, but the Red was taking off like a jumping airplane. There is nothing to compare with that experience. It was all I could do to hang on to his red mane. And yet we bonded; he was showing off for the world; I was loving his power, and I was having the time of my life. So fiction became a reality engrained pretty early on and nurtured throughout my life.
Flash back to fourth grade, Meridian, Idaho–ski resort. No snow yet therefore destitute of people. Perfect. Mountains, caves, rivers–and a family with a dry sense of humor that I was soon to adopt all coalesced with Tolkien’s Hobbits and Lord of the Rings. I had read all read all the books 4 times before Idaho. I knew them by heart, and I was a believer. I actually studied the Silmarllion like a Bible. Summer, so no school. I would wander the forests praying to find Middle Earth. Always wary of Orks and their wolves, but on the lookout for that portal that would lead me out of my boring life and on to hobbits and divine elves as well as noble humans–all of which I thought were missing in my life.
It was April 1, which should dawn on a 4th grader. So after politely eating pancakes lined with cardboard, drinking milk which dribbled embarrassingly due to a small hole drilled in the glass, we settled in for the night. Jake, the younger brother, was taking his bath when we heard a scream from his mother. “The Orks have taken Jake!” Sure enough Jake was not in the tub. No sooner than the screaming ended, we looked out the window and saw flashing red eyes. Mr. Hanson got out the shotgun and debated with the Ork from the front porch. An evil voice demanded, “We want more tender meat. Send out the children.” Mr. Hanson fired off a shot, but the Ork just blinked his red eyes and laughed. “We’ll have to eat this boy if we don’t get the children.” Now, as a believer–totally–I was scared shitless. My mother found me, my brother and our loyal Samoyed, Misha, stuffed and shivering in a small closet. At that point, my mother took me to the back room and let me in on the April Fool’s Finale. I was like, “Great let’s go scare Eric some more.” Cuz that’s the kind of sister I was becoming.
The point here is I finally realized fiction was a red flashlight and a black cape in reality. Jake had crawled out the bathroom window, and did his best Ork impression–which I still fully believed until my mother, fearing for my sanity, told me the truth. But reality bites. It must have been like when my brother learned the truth about Santa (or the Mormon Church, for that matter). I was confused. Tolkien laid out a world I wanted to be in, and for that belief I was a target for a big joke.
Well jokes are jokes until they become real. I continued to deny reality, living in books, movies, the stage and drugs and alcohol. This all necessitates lying–one of my biggest character defects. I changed into a camellion. My first drink at 13 was the brandy under the sink, my first hit of pot was with Karen in the date groves across from the high school. I was 14. By 16, I used acid, hash, speed, cocaine–you name it. God spared me the heroin hell, but in the end, I kicked it all except alcohol. I’m a drug addict, crack-smoking, common alcoholic. And I want to get better. Next entry will be about my year-long relapse. The “rapacious creditor” came for it all.