I remember the moment clearly. I was about 13 and sitting on the floor in front of the sliding glass door at the back of our house. To my left was Barbie’s apartment — a makeshift space where encyclopedias and board game boxes served as walls and furniture. Barbie was wearing her handmade wedding gown while she served grape jelly Cool Whip parfaits in tiny ramekins to her boyfriend Ken.
Barbie and Ken were deep in imaginary conversation, when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the glass. “There you are,” I chastised myself, “making two plastic toys talk to each other.”
The illusion was shattered.
I never played with Barbie and Ken again.
It was that moment. You know, the moment we realize we look silly dancing this way, or sound awful singing out loud, and don’t anymore. When we stop playing pretend and start playing roles defined by others. When we decide the dream we have is too farfetched for the real world.
Last week, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the glass and chastised myself, “there you are, playing make-believe again.” And I’ve been talking to myself ever since. Like Barbie and Ken, two versions of me, debating the pros and cons of some farfetched dream and the value or deficit of more realistic pursuits.
I thought I’d found my conclusion — the older, “wiser” me winning out — when this magical quote floated into my consciousness…
Never let reality get in the way of imagination. — Agar Nafisi
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