The weather is wild in this part of the world, bringing with it rain, chills, and gusting wind. Upon the wind came a memory of fairytales, fables, and fascinating stories which I absorbed as a child.
I was a voracious reader, and loved to lose myself in tales of adventure, quests, and the weird, wonderful lands of the imagination. Each story was a portal which whisked me away from the ordinary drama of everyday existence into a dimension of extraordinary drama. Where dragons did not disguise themselves as humans, but proudly displayed themselves in all their fire-breathing glory. Where the wicked could be vanquished by the good. Where suffering hardship was always rewarded with a kingdom and riches beyond compare. Where magical beings protected and guided the hero or heroine through tangled woods, dangerous lands, and over fearsome seas. And little children were always smarter, wiser than adults, and outwitted them.
Some of those stories are lost in time, but others stayed with me, carried like talismans in a velvet bag. A few of them are still whole, a few are broken into bits and pieces, still beautiful, but jumbled up like a mosaic.
My favourites were A Necklace of Raindrops, Salt over Gold, O-Tsuru – Crane Feathers, Pipi Longstocking, Sleeping Beauty (by Charles Perrault not Disney), The Firebird, Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady, The Story of Ferdinand (the bull), and others whose names I can’t recall, but the images the words conjured up in my mind are still with me.
The story which came to me particularly strongly today was The Girl Who Carried Stones in Her Pockets. I never had a written version of this story. In one of those rare moments I shared with my father, he told it to me, and drew pictures to illustrate it. I connected with that little girl. So small and light even the slightest breeze would blow her away, so she carried stones in the pockets of her dress to keep her feet on the ground.
We moved a lot when I was a child. It was a peripatetic life. Nowhere and everywhere was home. It was a great adventure. New people to discover, new places to explore, cultures to immerse myself in. I loved it. I also hated it. I could never make lasting friendships, because I was never anywhere long enough to form those kind of bonds. I could never keep the gifts I was given, or own souvenirs of people and places, because I had to fit all my belongings in a suitcase. Anything which didn’t fit, had to be left behind. So my memory had to grow large to carry all those things which I could not take with me in physical form.
I promised myself that I would one day have a real home, an actual house, bricks and mortar, which could not be blown away by the big bad wolf, and which I could fill to the brim with all the things I could never own as a child but wished I could. Promises are slippery and fragile, and my fingers have always had a hard time keeping them in their grasp, even when they have managed to hold on, they do it too tightly. Embedded in the palms of my hands are the splinters of many broken promises. I keep them to remind me of that which I have not kept.
When I was old enough to make my own choices about my life, when I could finally settle down, the wanderlust was too ingrained in me, and the restlessness never abated. The world just kept turning like a roulette wheel, with me as the ball, jumping around from place to place, settling for a moment here and there, then off again for another spin.
Along the way, I collected stones to keep me grounded. Not physically, but in other ways. Some of them good, healthy, and positive. Some of them not so much. For a long time I closed myself off from other people. For fear of becoming attached. I didn’t want to hurt others with my propensity to disappear when the wind blew. I was also afraid of being hurt, mostly by myself, and the impulses which drive my life, especially as they do not actually know how to drive. So many unnecessary U-turns. Speeding the wrong way down a one-way street. Lights off at night. Broken wipers during a rainstorm.
The wind wants to sweep me off my feet, and carry me off again. To where I do not know. But it can’t. I won’t let it. There is a very large stone in my heart weighing me down. I am not sure of what it is made. I keep trying to access it, but the light of the torch I am using is unable to penetrate the darkness. Perhaps I am just not ready to see it, or perhaps the wind is trying to blow the fog of darkness away, rather than blow me away, and I have to open the windows and door and let it in.
So, do you have a favourite fairytale, fable, story which you love, and which inspires you?