Tendrils of light curled around my toes as I was lifted above the linoleum. Was I ill with a fever? I don’t think so. Was this a true memory or another idea planted over time to bloom when I looked back at my childhood? Not sure. But there it lingers.
Waiting to introduce the next performer in my homemade talent show, I tried to hold on to the refrigerator handle but ended up only grasping air. Pockets of panic were swallowed, making unmistakable bubbles of joy in their wake. I couldn’t breathe normally; it was like how I imagine breathing through gills would be. My body took in air as I took flight but my mouth was frozen in an open “aaahhh.” Not “argh” like a pirate, but more of a doctor asking you to say “ah.”
I digress. I probably will again.
The incandescence of that early afternoon still dwells on the tip of my memory like a morsel to be savored, rolled around in the mind until it makes sense and is palatable. It was spring, when trees shared their early greens and when flowers first peeked out of the ground. The smells of baking cookies and musty books pervaded my childhood. Mine was a theatre bedecked with scratched mirrors, cracked paint, hand-me-down clothes, crayons, dancing, and tooth fairies. There was laughter through the dust my toes kicked up under the swing. On this day, there was a smile and real wonder on my face as I floated in the kitchen.
I remember trying to blink repeatedly to even out the optical illusory effect of the floor’s pattern so my eyes wouldn’t lie to my brain about being four feet off the ground. But there was nothing for it except to accept I was hovering with my family ensconced with their feet firmly on the ground in the next room.
I could hear their happy murmuring. I wanted to fly to them but I seemed to be stuck there in mid-air with my fingertips grazing the dusty top of the fridge. I couldn’t, wouldn’t call out. I was afraid I would fall if I upset the balance by speaking and shifting the air around me. Or something like that. I was very young. I recall not wanting to come down, looking down and getting dizzy. But I realized I couldn’t stay in the air, in limbo. Nothing I needed was there. But the people in the next room didn’t miss me or come looking for me even though it felt alarmingly like I had been floating for hours (of course, in a child-like mixture of terror and curious joy, it was probably only minutes or even seconds).
I was left adrift.
Everyone had gone to the living room to watch TV while I prepared the next act. There had been laughter and joking and role-playing and singing as I emceed my show. All that faded as my family left the room and I felt myself leave the ground. As I spent a lot of time alone as a child, there were plenty flights-of-fancy to be found. So many of my stories and songs and pictures and creations littered my room, I can still recall the pride I felt when something I made was selected to be hung on the fridge. But this day burns in my memory like something real and not a dream.
Though I have always had very vivid daydreams. With castles and fairies and talking trees. My dreams have not diminished in my middle age. I just find fewer people find them endearing so I keep them mostly to myself.
I was left with my toes being kissed by sunlight streaming in the kitchen window. I landed very gently back on my feet, falling wobbly and confused but oh so happy.
“When I was a child, I had a fever. My hands felt just like two balloons. Now I’ve got that feeling once again, I can’t explain, you would not understand this is not how I am. I have become comfortably numb.” — Pink Floyd