By Amy Hood - @Amylia403
Many of you reading this are like me. You grew up in a not so perfect home and, to put it nicely, in very difficult circumstances. Some of you reading this may still be in those places and wondering, as I often did as a child, if there was more; if there was “different.” Wondering where was the end of the clouds and the beginning of the rainbows? For many of us, myself included, THIS is where obsession with fairytales, fantasy and adventure began. When we feel powerless and trapped, oftentimes imagination can be the savior of both sanity and soul. When life was at its lowest, it was then that my mind soared and escaped into stories that were so beautiful, so magnificent that they were able to transport me out of a place of darkness and up into the tallest castles. Even if it was only for a bit of time, it gave to me the one thing I needed to survive… Hope.
A very wise person once said that we should all be kind to others, for we do not know what battles they are fighting. Bright and shiny on the outside is often struggling and tarnished on the inside. Even the happiest people may fight a battle every day. Yours may have been or may be different than mine, but if you are fighting, struggling, putting on a brave face, then, like me, you may have escaped into stories. Once Upon a Time struck a chord with me immediately when I began to watch it. Yes, it was a fantastical show filled with fairytales, but more than that, it reminded me of how much stories had always meant to me.
Often I would imagine that a prince would slay a vicious, fire breathing dragon, saving me from the life I was living. I would leap from the bed, covered in imaginary pixie dust and fly far away to a place that was anywhere besides where I was. The power of stories gave us hope. They gave us strength in a time when we felt powerless. We had moments of beauty in darkness. Outside the walls of our house, my sister and I would run, not as ourselves, but as Snow White through an imaginary dark forest. We climbed trees that seemed one thousand feet tall, that may have only been twenty-foot tall saplings, but not in those moments. We flew to the Death Star, saved the day and found a place inside of us to hold bravery, even when we were not allowed to be brave. We took turns being princesses and villains. Each holding our own kind of bravery and power. Even in being defeated as Maleficent or the Evil Queen, I could still be happy to see my sister strong, and she could feel the same for me. Many difficult years passed, but we kept those moments close.
Eventually my sister was sent away to live with her grandparents. We didn’t see much of each other after that. Years passed, and like many others, distance pulls you in many directions. Two years ago I had a chance to vacation with her after many years had gone by. I don’t recall much else, other than the fact that we talked and talked for hours. We remembered things neither of us had thought about for years, and for a moment it seemed like we could scatter the pixie dust and jump from the bed into the air. One thing that we both remembered was the power of the books, the stories and the fantasy tales we had escaped into. We both feel like those worlds were a very real place to us where we would often hide.
A few months ago I found a toy on eBay that I had as a child. It is a simple preschool wind up house in which Snow White rocks back and forth while playing music as the seven dwarfs look on. A ridiculous toy for any adult to want, but I had to have it. In my hands, I laughed when it arrived. I wound it up and recalled how my sister and I had wished we were tiny enough to crawl inside and live there when we were quite little. In many ways and for many people, stories are more than stories. Stories are about hope, about joy, about the belief that one day things will be better. Many people don’t get that chance; they give up when it seems unbearable. But I can tell you, as would my sister if she were here, that the darkness doesn’t last. It is huge and overwhelming at times, but the light of hope that seems so far out does eventually come.