Reality vs. Reverie

I don’t remember many details, but I have a vague memory of reading a book when I was very young about a girl who was living in really bad circumstances, like a closet or something. Whenever she was put there (by a terrible parental figure, of course), she’d imagine a whole world of friends and adventures. When she was older and safe from the clutches of the Evil Parent, her doctors said that the biggest reason why she became a good, sane person was because of her imagination. Her rejection of reality is what saved her.

And it occurred to me today that I’ve kind of been living like that this year. Exaggerating my circumstances to make things feel a little brighter, a little more fun, rather than focusing too much on the fact that we’re all stuck in closets until this thing blows over.

I’m not stuck at home — I’m enjoying extra time with my family and working on my writing.

I’m not unable to meet my coworkers in person — I’m leveraging the amazing tools of video calls and benefiting from the heightened level of communication.

I’m not missing out on road trips — it’s just that they’ve become significantly shorter.

Granted my road trips include visits to the grocery store and going through the drive-thru lane for a dirty chai. But also — and mainly — taking walks around my neighborhood, and through my local parks. It’s the modern-day equivalent of going on safari.

And I adore it. I am a wanderer – I must wander – and I do!

The act of putting on my coat and donning – gasp – a pair of shoes, it changes my brain chemicals. My mental gears run a little faster. I’m convinced, somewhere in that dark clump of gray matter, that I’m about to go on a fun adventure. Anything can happen outside of my house’s walls. Anything!

Of course now it’s getting chilly out there, and I’m a major wuss when it comes to being in contact with even moderate coolness (I don’t even like opening my refrigerator), so I find myself having to be a little more creative – a little more all-inclusive – with my already broadened definition of keeping wandering and adventuring in my life.

Enter podcasts. Enter books. Enter Netflix and Amazon Prime video.

Because what I really love about traveling isn’t the movement from point A to point B. At the root of my intense affection for wandering, is the experience of seeing the world from a new angle. And if I’m doing it right, it’s the shared experience of that.

That’s why traveling partners are so key. Well, one of the main reasons, anyway.

So of course I love finding out that someone else is watching what I’m watching, listening to what I’m listening to. One of my significant other’s and my favorite things to do is “virtual dates”, where we’ll each load up a show, pause at the opening shot, and text the other when it’s time to press play. (And of course, we love to talk smack about the writing and performances as we watch — why would we do anything else?)

It keeps alive this sense of exploring things together. Finding and sharing something new, that wasn’t in our lives before that moment. It’s a kind of adventure.

Ah, bliss.

Oh, sorry, you’re waiting for me to make a significant point.

Alas, I don’t have anything grander or earth-shattering to share beyond that. It just occurred to me today that if I were stuck in a closet by some evil tyrant in the future, I think I’ve built up some pretty handy survival skills, and as long as they let me keep my Netflix and Spotify accounts, I think maybe I’d be alright.

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