Project Protagonist: My Dustland Fairytale

Is there still magic in the midnight sun
Or did you leave it back in ’61?

There are so many things I used to know, that I’ve forgotten, that I’m relearning. Some of them are things I suspect I knew before and forgot when I was born, but so many of them are things I knew and I let myself forget because it was easier. Because I didn’t want to argue with parents, or with schoolteachers, or with friends or significant others.

I have always been a cuckoo, though I didn’t know why or how to explain it. I always knew my father was not my father; my mother, I let myself believe in eventually. I never trusted adults as far back as I can remember. I remember being babysat by my grandmother, so I must not have been in kindergarten yet, and locking myself in her bedroom while I played so no one would know what I was doing.

I remember long summer evenings sitting up in the trees, hoping that somehow the sun would not set if I didn’t come down, that I might never have to go home. I remember coming home after I left the first time, and no longer knowing how my room was supposed to smell, and thinking that the jig was up, certainly now they’d notice I was faking it and I wasn’t really their child.

Be their daughter.
Nothing’s harder

I remember long high school afternoons in the drama room, in the library, in the computer lab, in the guidance office, anywhere but in class. I knew all the tricks to make them leave me alone; I have long been Someone Else’s Problem, the invisibility, whatever it is, has been there for a long time. Since I stopped dancing, probably. I think it would have been somewhere between the end of my junior year and the beginning of my senior year that it began.

I remember discovering synchronicity in Sunday School, before Communion, when I decided that angels were kin to gods and gave my teacher headaches.

I remember outlining water, earth, fire and air, and their alignments to darkness, light, chaos and order. I dreamt of how life went on after the end of the world before I could even write the stories that went with it.

There were gods before I knew they were gods, who taught me and made sure I knew someone was watching out for me, even if I didn’t trust my parents to do it. Professor Dark drew me out, and Jareth held me back. And the Dark Lady was always there to wrap sleep around me, back when I could sleep so easily and well no matter where I was.

I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form
“Come in” she said “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

I understood that the line between fiction and reality was blurry, and that we could do our best to blur it further. I knew gods in the guise of fictional characters weren’t any less real than the ones in my Bulfinch. In many ways, they were more real to me.

And I’ve always known the Library. I’ve always had the sense that moving correctly between the stacks will get me lost. Oh, the tiny one in the next town over didn’t have room for that, though I always seemed to manage to find a quiet corner anyway, but the one in the city nearby was gloriously old and gothic, with floors that didn’t quite extend to the walls. I spent whole days there just sitting and reading, breathing with the books.

So this is my Creed.

I believe in the elements and their aspects.
I believe in words, and in stories.
I believe in family, but not in blood.
I believe the gods choose their faces.
I believe in burning up, and coming back.
I believe there’s always another adventure.

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