Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Inescapable, Yet Irretrievable Past

When I was about 9 years old (circa 1979,)
I won the cash prize raffle at our school,
the Boys Academy of the Holy Names.
It was the first of any kind of prize I had won,
and since it was a whopping $ 250,
I was a little blown away.

My own thoughts were that I should have been
able to spend all that money at once,
on whatever I wanted.
Not an unlikely assumption, really, since
fiscal restraint and parental involvement were
nonexistent on the homefront!

But alas, most was spent on necessities
and a savings account, although I did get
to spend a nice little chunk at Lionel Play World
in Tampa. What little I had, proportionately
speaking, went quite a long way in those days.

I can still vividly recall the excitement
of ripping open every Mego doll's plastic bubble
from its cardborad backing, placing the figure
next to me in the vehicle and stashing the trash
back in the giant hefty-bag-sized store bag,
remniscent of Santa's satchel.

I methodically acquainted myself with each figure,
 relating him or her to their comic book
histories or TV appearances, recalling the good times
we had (virtually) spent together.

As a lonely, isolated, overweight, closeted kid
in a house with no love (but plenty of rage
and secrets,) my love of comics and its characters
were more than mere hobby or pass-time...
they were lifeline.

 I pored over the books, played with those toys
endlessly, breathlessly, deriving my only joy
and feeling my only connection.

It was one place I felt safe, understood,
and even a sense of belonging.
Imagination was my best friend.

Once, in an effort to break me cold turkey
of my love of comics, my parents had gone into my room
while I was away (at around age 6)
and taken every last comic, bagged them in garbage
bags, and hidden them.

I only found this out later;
at the time they told me they had been donated.
I was devastated. The empty room felt as though
my insides had been violated. A theft of more
than just colored pages and super hero passions,
but rather my safety zone, my support system.

Again at age 10, the thought was that I was
getting too old for these particular childish fantasties and
obsessions, and after a fight between the parental units,
Mom appeared once more with large black
trash bags, this time making me assist the process.

Anything that was missing a piece, broken, or
marred in the least was discarded. From the closet
of a 10-year-old boy, that's pretty much everything.

I felt the rip of each toy and all its hours of
pleasant memories as they were unceremoniously
stuffed into the bags. Part of me understood
the psychology of what they were doing;
that they wanted to have a little boy like everyone
else's little boy, and I wished I could have articulated
that this was doing more harm than good....

That I wasn't going to change who I was, but
this assault would take away the joy that I did have.

I sat crestfallen, devastated once more in my emptied-out room,
now pure and devoid of all vacuous childhood notions
and fun. It confounded me a bit, to think there was an association
with being worn, and not having any value. I would have
played with my toys and comics until they disintegrated.

Condition meant nothing to me; they were counseling
tools, not collectibles.

But mother in particular liked things to look nice,
to have their 'place,' to be pristine. Her OCD
was beginning in earnest then.

(This entire incident also had a negative imprint on my
psyche as evidenced in later years;
Mom's perfectionistic tendencies led to my purges
to clear out my home of 'clutter' in earnest waves of mania.
In rebellion, I have given way to a pack-rat mentality,
a gypsy-like need to recycle everything, saving and even
acquiring items long past the point of having any value left.)

The 'rents--as I always referred to my parents, until later
by virtue of remedial Latin, when I started calling them
'Matroid' and 'Patroid', and later still in the final phase of
contemptuous dissent, simply by their first names--were
not my favorite people.

These items were not just casual purchases...they
were emotional investments. The iconic characters were my
substitute friends...talsimen of psychological relief from
countless past and then-present abuses.
Tonic for soothing, medicinal use.
Each item was treasured and adored for the positive
reflection that holding it and reexperiencing it gave me,
recalling the cherished support and distraction previously
given me from my war-torn childhood.

The serial nature of the comic tales, and long histories of the
characters gave a knowable nature, a consistency
and dependability that was lacking at home.

Later efforts to undo my 'unsuitable' and 'non-boy-like'
tendencies related to toys and comics (including no longer buying
me certain types, giving more away, selling them at yard sales,
storing them in the unreachable attic, etc) never deterred
my interest in fantasy and comics. If anything,
it solidified my resolve to regain the forbidden fruit.

Being in my own world didn't prevent me from developing
'like other kids,' it gave me something to help me survive
since I already knew I was nothing like most
other kids. It was my life preserver.
As I've learned in my adult life through painful, disappointing,
embarrassing experimentations,
I don't fit in.
Never have, never will, and I don't fake it well, either.

I'm at my best in my own element, in my own world,
entertaining myself with things I
enjoy and being self-reliant. I'm good with that...
more than content now.

In this world, being self-sufficient
and self-contained is a bonus, not a hindrance.


No comments:

Post a Comment