grown ups are like that....

Friday, May 29, 2009

What It Is Part 2

"Is a dream autobiography or fiction?" (page 21)

This question starts the second part of Lynda Barry's What It Is. The questions come hard and fast after this. . .

"What is an experience?" (page 22)

"Where do we keep bad memories?" (page 23)

"Do memories have mass? Do they have motion?" (page 36)

In between these questions about image and memory she discusses her childhood which was a lonely place illuminated first only by the glowing television and later by fairy tales and books, and, of course, her blinking cat.

It is images like that of the cat, images of what never-was, that I want to explore further in this post along with "What is an imaginary friend? Are there imaginary enemies?" (page 29)


When I was a little girl I had both an imaginary enemy as well as imaginary friends. My innocent, loving imaginary friends came into my life first. I cannot recall at what age I first started to play with Larry and the Two Kids, but I was very, very small, perhaps about three.

I can see him clearly. Larry wore a yellow shirt and at his sides were two small children--one boy, one girl. On there faces there was just a skein of flesh colored blankness, like a Little People doll with the features rubbed off. The picture seems disconcerting, but it really wasn't. As I picture them in my head the feeling that washes over me is that of peace, protection, love.

They traveled with me everywhere--in the car, to the store, to restaurants. They were my constant companions. My friends that never-were.

I do not remember when Larry and the Two Kids left my life, but their exit was painless, easy, natural. Not like the entrance of my imaginary enemy.

This man, this never-was dream phantom, was not faceless. Indeed his scarred, terrifying face loomed large in my childhood dreams. I was older, perhaps about ten, when he first came to me. Unlike Larry, he only visited in the night, in my dreams. He was a spiffy dresser, this haunting character. He usually wore light color clothes--tan, beige, cream colored, old fashioned suits with high collars and bow ties. He wore small, round spectacles and had gleaming, perfect white teeth. The skin on his face was a shiny, tight red as if he had been burned or slashed across the face and gruesome scars replaced true flesh.

I can see him now in a long ago dream (one of many): He is walking into an old fashioned school house. Alone in the countryside, the little school stands white among green meadows. The sky is steel gray and crowds of children push by him to enter the building. Books in hand and freshly washed, they are eager to start the school day. He stands tall and ominous above them. I know, just know that he will enter that school and hurt every child in there. No one will escape whatever evil he is about to do. He turns toward me and flashes a toothy grin as he shuts the door behind him.


Come back next week for more light hearted fun and frolic with the Blog of Seriousness and Doom when I'll be talking about the next section of What It Is. ( I promise not to scare you further with creepy nightmare men :-)

Check out Rachel's place, too, for her discussion of the second section of the book.


InTheFastLane said...

I never had an imaginary enemy. I did have an imaginary twin sister.

My oldest "fired" her imaginary friend one day, and then she was done with her.

Rachel said...

I wish I hadn't read this before bed! I love that we went in different directions. I was intrigued by the imaginary friends and enemies, but not sure what to do with them, then I sunk my teeth into the idea of memories. Your memories are so vivid, they feel like they could be mine! That's good writing :D