This morning I craved rainbows. I was sad. I was wondering why hard reality always makes me sad, makes me want to curl up in a ball and disappear to somewhere with rainbows and unicorns, some place where problems somehow don’t exist.
I was somewhat obsessed with unicorns and rainbows as a child. When I was just a few years old my parents painted a big rainbow with clouds and rainbow-colored stars on a light blue background on the slanted ceiling of my bedroom. My room had no windows, but this cheered it up considerably. I had unicorn stuffed animals, posters, knick-knacks, a yellow Rainbow Bright lunch box and Thermos, a Rainbow Bright doll, and a Rainbow Bright blanket on my bed. Also on my bed was a vivid rainbow afghan crocheted for me by my mom. I still have it. Blue and Little take turns with it. I swear it’s as vivid and tightly stitched today as it was nearly 30 years ago. Remarkable.
I think I eased up on the rainbows as I entered into the teen years. The unicorn fetish continued. By this time I’d seen all the important unicorn movies many times over: Unico, The Last Unicorn, Legend. (If anyone’s wondering why my older brother has the strong character he does today, I’d bet it has to do with resilience formed hearing Unico’s voice over and over and over and over and over…and managing not to strangle me or tear the Betamax apart.) I’d rewritten the words to Shel Silverstein’s “The Unicorn,” about how unicorns didn’t make it onto Noah’s ark so you’re “never gonna see no unicorn,” which I’d learned in song form. My version was much more hopeful.
Symbols of childhood. Symbols of a time when the most difficult reality to face was Mom getting you up early for school or having to perform in front of the class. Naturally I would occasionally desire to go back there to be free of the mean tricks of adult life. If I could just magically land in Matt Martin’s dank cellar, the two of us playing “Dungeons and Vampires” and then running off into the woods and cornfields on Young Detective Club adventures…
There are things about adult life I sure do love and appreciate. Of course. Of course. It just gets me sometimes; the realness, the discomforts and pains. Especially when, like lately, my life is so rich and full and unbelievably happy. It’s the contrast. It’s the reminder that I’m not living in Never-Never Land.
About two hours after my little baby I-want-rainbows-and-unicorns-and-magic-to-make-my-problems-go-away crying fit this morning I was sitting outside on my back deck listening to the rain and writing lists (which are almost magical—bringing order and rightness to the world—the closest thing to magic besides love that we’ll know in this world). I was quite composed. Passers-by glancing my way may even have mistaken me for a grown-up. (Shhh! Don’t tell!) My daughter Blue decided to pop out onto the deck to see me. With her tow-colored ringlets bouncing around her slender pixie face and her green eyes twinkling, she handed me a folded piece of paper which had been carefully shaped with scissors. I opened it. There, in vivid crayon scribblings, taking up the whole page, was a rainbow.
Maybe there’s a little magic floating around the world after all. The children soak it up with their wide eyes and disperse it with butterfly kisses and crayons.