Hey. It’s September 1, 2020. Fall isn’t quite here yet, and the year has a lot more time left to mess with us. I’m resisting saying it can’t get worse because, well, it can. I don’t want to tempt it.
One thing I’ve always loved about Autumn is the falling leaves. As I sit at my desk, the window next to me is open. A light breeze is coming through. Cool enough to keep the office a comfortable temperature. I was talking to someone on Twitter tonight (my handle’s @DaughterHauk – come find me!), and finally made a connection.
My childhood wasn’t amazing. I’ve never kept quiet about it, really. It was stable, yes. My parents loved me, though they didn’t really understand how to raise a creative soul. They were also products of their own generation. They were quiet racists, though they tried to teach us to be better than they were.
Our house was small. I’ve lived in apartments that were bigger, even after they doubled the size of the living room at one point. I do remember bits of the construction process. The front yard had two trees. One was a big maple we weren’t allowed to climb. Mom feared we’d fall and break something.
We still did, if they weren’t home. And never broke a bone. It begged to be climbed.
Anyhow, I can remember when the leaves began to turn. Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. They’d fall in giant piles all over the front yard. And that’s when I really started to have fun.
Yes, we did the typical rake everything into a pile and jump into it. But, at some point, I always would make a floorplan on the front lawn. The leaves would delineate walls, doors. Moats, secret passages, and even furniture. I would walk through the ‘house’ I built, but my mind saw so much more than leaves in a line. The walls were real. It could be a castle, a cabin in the woods, or a dungeon under a mountain.
In the rooms, there were even odds for traps, treasure, and monsters that needed to be slain. Someone who needed to be saved. In actuality, I was trying to find a way to escape for myself. I was the one I was trying to save. And I didn’t find the way out for years.
This is where my love of fantasy came from. The first stories I came up with were in my mind, as I roamed the halls of worlds I created. It’s been decades since I built a house out of leaves. But the memory of doing it practically daily for years is never going to leave me.
Those worlds got me through 2 years of hell when I was being raped and molested. They got me through the bullying, fat shaming, and constant undermining of any sort of self-worth I could grasp as I grew up. At first, anyway. Eventually, my self-confidence was undermined to the point that I locked my muse into a small cage, along with the floorplans of those wonderful houses, and buried the key.
I was 40 when I dared to unearth the key and set her free again.
Life isn’t always perfect. I’m certainly not. But Autumn is always going to be my favorite season. Because I know I’m a survivor. And the key to my escape is my stories.