As I drove north to Burlington on I-89 and jammed out to my iPod on shuffle, “Fireflies” by Lori Mckenna started to play. Listening to the song, I felt a strong connection to the lyrics and the magical world that the singer relates to childhood.
“Before you met me I was a fairy princess
I caught frogs and called them prince
And made myself a queen
And before you knew me
I’d traveled ’round the world
And I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream
I found mayonnaise bottles and poked holes on top
To capture Tinker Bell
And they were just fireflies to the untrained eye
But I could always tell
Cause I believe in fairy tales
And dreamer’s dreams
Like bedsheet sails
And I believe in Peter Pan
And miracles, anything I can to get by
When I was little, I had the biggest imagination possible. To my brothers and I, trees could be turned into dragons that we could ride. A piece of mosquito netting was a boat that we would sail away in with our stuffed animals. A large pile of dirt that existed during the digging of our neighbor’s pool became a house with multiple rooms. And yes, I poked holes in the lids to jars and caught fireflies.
I went through a phase, probably around the time I was eight, when I would look out my window and wish upon a star every night before going to bed. I once wrote the tooth fairy a two-page note detailing everything that I wanted her to get me. I thought the sand man really came at night and left sand in the corners of my eyes.
I believed –and still do– in happy endings. This is probably the result of watching way too many Disney movies –in addition to the classics, The Swan Princess and Thumbelina were also big favorites of mine– and witnessing the happy marriages that my parents, grandparents, and most other people in my life have always shared. I had dreams that I could fly. This is still the one super power I would have, if I could. I was mesmerized by beautiful mansions in my dad’s carpentry and home building magazines and I was determined to someday live in a house like those pictured. Surprisingly and unlike so many other girls I know, I’ve rarely thought about getting married and how I want my wedding to be, although I did plan my high school prom when I was in 3rd grade and at one point I had names picked out for my future children.
I grew up in a world of my imagination, where everything was magical and the only thing I was scared of was that I might get kidnapped if I didn’t lock the doors when I stayed in the car. This naive view I had on the world started to change around the time I was 11 and 9/11 occurred. For the first time in my life, I realized that the world wasn’t the safe and care-free place that I had always thought it was. Bad things happened to good people and there was nothing I could do about it. All I had control over was my own life, what I get out of it, and how I choose to spend it. With this realization, I decided to continue to live in the magical world of Arianna and stay as far away as possible from the tragedies and horrors of the real world.
A part of me knows this is really bad. As an educated person, I should know what’s going on in the Middle East, what countries have the best economies, and I should spend more time caring about the global issues that exist. However, I don’t want to turn on NPR in the morning and hear how many soldiers were killed in the last 24 hours. I don’t want to know that after the U.S.’s terrorist attacks, Madrid and London were also bombed. I don’t even want to learn about the ramifications of the BP oil spill –except for the great PR story, of course.–
I’m not stupid. I know these events, and all the other negatives that exist in this world, are important to care about. I just can’t feel passionate about things that I have no control over. Yes, it is possible for me to be some sort of an influence on these issues, but truthfully, I know this isn’t going to happen. I’d rather spend my energy volunteering locally or helping make people’s lives better in an underdeveloped country, like how the amazing Beth Fitzgerald had dedicated her life. But if truth be told, I’d rather go back to being a naive little girl, keep dreaming I could fly, keep wishing on stars, and keep catching fireflies.