Make it last forever, friendship never ends…

Boredom is a strange thing.

For the first four years of my life, I was an only child.  Most people I know joke about how wonderful life was before their younger sibling was born. I do not share in this sentiment.  I was lonely.  Especially before I started school.  My mother worked from home so she often had to be in her office, inaccessible to me for playing [though fortunately nice and close for snacktime].  I became very good at entertaining myself.

Sesame Street and Barney helped a lot.

Or really any TV show or movie that involved music in some way.

Even after my brother was born, he was fairly useless for the first few years.  Fortunately, I learned to read at an early age, so that saved me from a lot of potentially deathly boring situations.  I also discovered early the powers of the imagination.  It started with an imaginary cat [even though I hate cats…go figure] named Cocoa.  My mother still reminds me of Cocoa to this day.  Apparently I was very serious when it came to him and GOD FORBID you sat where I told you he was sitting.  Luckily Cocoa had excellent reflexes and often avoided getting squashed at the last moment.  But I would, nearing a state of panic, insist that everyone watch where they were going.  As I got older, my imaginary pet collection grew.  In fact, it started to resemble more of an imaginary Zoo.  I think it was my silent way of showing my mother how much I really wanted a pet that wasn’t a fish.  I loved my fish, but I got the feeling they didn’t really love me back.  My pet giraffe though? Totally loved me. My pet mouse?? Best road trip buddy ever.

Sometimes I wonder how I didn’t end up in a psych ward by 6 years old.

Obviously, as my parents’ first child, they had no idea that this wasn’t normal.

Luckily, as I got older, I turned to slightly more normal means of passing the time.  More reading, listening to music, drawing, play-doh…

Performing concerts for my entire stuffed animal collection.

You know, normal kid stuff…

When I got a little older, however, it got a little out of hand.  As I’ve mentioned before, I wasn’t always socially on par with my peers.  This was especially obvious when I hit about 6th or 7th grade.  It didn’t help that I had glasses and braces and ENJOYED school and reading.  I was like the stereotypical awkward Buffy-loving nerd.  I also loved musicals.  Though I still don’t understand how that’s nerdy.

So, it was around that time that I once again had to find ways to entertain myself, since I didn’t exactly have a lot of ‘play dates’ and it didn’t take me very long to do my homework.  My concerts got slightly more elaborate.  For example, I had dance routines for every song on both of the Spice Girls albums, and had a detailed storyline in my head about how I was discovered by these British pop sensations and was chosen to replace Geri as their fifth band-mate.  I believe I even had a “spice” name for myself, though at this point I don’t remember what it was.  I figured out which lines were sung by Ginger Spice in each song [including the Spanish rap] and perfected them.

I’m glad I never performed these concerts for my parents or friends or really any living, breathing human, because this is when I CERTAINLY would have ended up in a white padded cell.

Anywho, due to the fact that I had spent much of my time imagining myself touring the world, the Spice Girls became better friends to me than most of my classmates.  Whenever I was lonely, I would imagine that they were there and I would have conversations with them in my head.  Thankfully, it was never out loud and I was fully aware that I was creating their answers, not that these invisible people were answering me.

I was lonely, not schizophrenic.

I remember one time, one of the first times I realized how truly lonely I was, my family and I were at some kind of an amusement park with other family friends.  I don’t remember how it came about, but I had been (once again) ditched by the people who were my own age.  I really wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel, but I couldn’t seem to convince anyone to go on it with me.  Thinking back, I’m not sure my father was there, because he was always my ride buddy at things like this.  Either way, I was so completely bored and annoyed and very determined to go on this Ferris Wheel, that I decided to go on it by myself.  Even at this young age, I could sense the park attendant’s pity for me as he secured the gate to the six person cart with me in it all alone.  This was an insignificant event on an insignificant day of my life, but I still remember with disturbing detail the ride I was on, where I was sitting in this cart, and the tangible, painful, utter sadness I felt at that moment.

But I somehow managed to fight back the tears that I could feel warming the insides of my eyelids, and imagined that the Spice Girls were there with me.  Providing me a sense of comfort I had yet to find in actual people up to this point in my life, I felt a little better, and was able to ignore the weary smile of the attendant as I trotted off the ride ten minutes later.

So though I’m not exactly proud of the fact that my “imaginary friends” not only were necessary up through junior high, but also were actually the Spice Girls, I realize now that it was just a coping mechanism for me.

I later had less desirable coping mechanisms or no way to cope with things at all, so looking back I’m kind of proud of pre-teenaged me for knowing how to privately handle her own loneliness and take her sadness into her own hands.  I was fortunate enough to eventually surround myself with peers that were more wonderful than I could have ever imagined the Spice Girls to be and no longer had to play private games of make-believe.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a strange sense of comfort every time “Wannabe” started playing on my iPod…

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~ by Valerie Anne on 11/11/2010.

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