Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My First Imaginary Friend was a Ghost

When I was a little girl, I had five imaginary friends. But one of them was a ghost. Her name was Amy.
I remember waking in the morning, and she’d be sitting on the end of my bed, waiting for me. I called her Amy, because I had trouble saying her full name. I had a speech impediment as a child. She didn’t seem to mind. My adult brain keeps trying to fill her full name in from scattered memories. Amalia? Amelia? Emmeline?
She was a shadow in the house while I dressed, ate breakfast, and brushed my teeth. We didn’t speak inside but her presence was a comfort to me. We walked to school together every day. She always wore the same outfit, a dress that could have come from Little House on the Prairie, a pale blue dress with tiny flowers on it. Her hair hung in one long braid down her back. It was a light brown color. Her eyes were blue. And always, every day, her feet were bare.
We walked together in the snow, my breath hanging in the air in front of me. Not hers. We would walk together all the way to the corner of Grand and Prospect where the crossing guard stood. Amy would stay on my side of Prospect. She couldn’t cross the street. She didn’t know why. Every day, after school, she would be waiting for me there.
I remember knowing enough to hold my tongue until we were out of range of other kids. And I just accept it was true. Why do I believe she was a ghost? Partly because of all the other spectral encounters I have had in my later life that I know are true. But also because, of all my imaginary friends, Amy was the only one who I couldn’t change or control. She always wore the same thin dress. I couldn’t dress her for the appropriate season like I could the others. She was always barefoot. I wish I remembered the conversations we had, for I know we spoke together while we were walking.
I can’t believe I almost forgot that she was a spirit.
Children, untainted, untrained, unschooled, are open vessels to the world. I know a lot of parents who say their children talk about who they were in a past life, or bring up details on historical events they couldn’t yet know about. There are even children who give details about their imaginary friends that, after research, turn out to be people who had really existed. Kids see things we don’t. According to developmental psychologists, when children reach eight years-old, they begin to conform to what they have to believe and think in order to be part of our culture. And one of the first things they let go of is their belief in magic, and their imagination.
We did the same thing when we were kids. As we age we tell ourselves that what we remember couldn’t possibly have happened the way we remember it. And we alter our own origin stories. We tell ourselves that we couldn’t possibly remember what we did when we were four years old, that we must be making it up. But we must remember that just because we didn’t have the language we needed to accurately identify a thing, doesn’t mean that what we remember is wrong. It’s just out of focus.
I have been both cursed and blessed with a long memory for things that emotionally stirred me. I believed in magic as a child. I remember not speaking to Amy out loud in front of others, even though I didn’t speak out loud with my other imaginary friends. I just had conversations with them in my head. But with Amy, I remember thinking other people would not be able to see her. I remember subsequently hiding myself from the world because I felt I was different. I remember how disconnected I felt when I closed myself off to the natural world.
I believe that act was what caused my decades of unexplainable loneliness. The more I work towards reconnecting into the land I live on and within, the more I chip away at that dark place inside me and the less alone I feel. And the more I accept that the quirky life I remember as a little girl was more real than the one of concrete and asphalt.

When I was a little girl, I had five imaginary friends. But one of them was a ghost. Her name was Amy.

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