I have never grown up—a combination of circumstances and deliberate effort. When I was five I had no desire whatsoever to be six. I even now pay only lip service to the fact of being an adult.
I’ve always been acutely aware that life is a precious gift I could not have forever, and I suppose I’ve believed that if I stayed a child, I could indefinitely put off having to give it back. Yet even while I refer to life as a party, I’ve never felt that I was particularly welcome guest; I’ve always been the one standing awkwardly in the corner, watching everyone else enjoy themselves.
Reality and I have never cared for one another. Even as a child, while my parents and close relatives served as my anchors and made me feel loved and physically comfortable, I felt somehow detached. Thanks in large part to my mother, who read to me constantly before I learned to read for myself and fostered my fantasies, I was able to build a fortress against reality Its walls and battlements were made of materials I found in books and movies and stories and games. I developed the ability to view myself with an odd detachment, as though I were a character in a book I was reading. I slowly became my own book, my own movie. This is still the case today. I sit in the armchair of my mind and watch/read in fascination as my story—and my books—unfold.
And though there are advantages to holding tightly to a child’s mind, eyes, and heart beyond physical childhood, it becomes more and more difficult as the body ages and reality’s armies march relentlessly forward to besiege my fortress.
So many factors make each of us who we are as individuals, and we are all different because no two people have identical life-shaping experiences. My personal unwillingness to “grow up” has been neither easy nor, often, pleasant. It is based, again, on the my acute awareness of not “belonging,” of never really having been or being totally sure of how to respond to “grown-up” situations. It has left me eternally confused and frustrated, and. I cannot remember a time when I have not felt like a lost little boy.
Interestingly, however, though I have always felt alone, I very seldom feel lonely. I have also fairly well developed the ability to avoid feeling overwhelmed by simply refusing to think about things which I know might well cause those feelings. I’m very well aware that the possibility for physical and romantic love—sharing my life with someone whom I can love with all my being, and who could love me equally in return—have long been lost to me, and this could be a source of true sorrow and regret were I allow it to. So I simply do not let myself think about it. But it is clear notice that I have been at the party a very long time and cannot expect to stay forever.
Having retained a child’s romanticism and firm belief in a happily-ever-after, I’m even now constantly trying to accommodate what I want and expect life to be with what it is. My fortress is surrounded, and even my lost little boy knows it.
While the mind may be able to resist reality, the body cannot. My little boy’s body has long, long ago vanished, to be replaced by one I simply do not recognize and which could horrify me if I were to allow myself too much access to reflexive surfaces. I am slowly losing control over it and I fear it has made a pact with reality which I would never allow it to even consider.
And as I view, with truly detached objectivity, the fact that I am closer to the end of my journey than to the beginning, I fool myself by thinking of it a “logic” rather than “reality.” And you can be sure I will remain in my fortress, thumbing my nose at Reality’s armies as long as I possibly can. And then, hopefully, my mother may come and read me a story.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).