“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I would like to thank my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother for instilling and nurturing a sense of wonder and imagination within my heart & soul. Without you I would have accepted the world as it was presented to me instead of what I wanted it to be. To my husband; I am very fortunate for having someone that shares my sense of wonder and madness. To my friends and family; thank you for accepting and supporting me as I am. I would also like to thank the wonderful Lewis Carroll for creating a piece of literature that continues to inspire me every day. I guess we're all mad here.
This story is dedicated to those children who had to learn to live without a father. Remember, you are loved and wanted.
As I took my usual Sunday morning stroll down Main Street I allowed my mind to wander. I like to refer to this as “walking my brain.” It was a great way to let myself wind down before starting over again on Monday. It was a scorching summer day in Houston, but that's Texas for you. As the saying goes, “don't like the weather in Texas? Wait five minutes.” I took a moment to stop at the crosswalk, and my attention is caught by a father and son buying ice cream across the street from the nearby Mexican treats man. The kid was sitting on his shoulders while he asked him what flavor he wanted. It was a bittersweet moment for me as I had never experienced that kind of father-son bonding. In fact, I've never experienced any sort of father-son anything.
For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of what it would be like to have a father. I would often wonder about the things he may have taught me. I've never really been into sports or outdoor stuff most guys seem to enjoy, but would that have been different if I had a dad to throw a ball with? Would he call me “slugger” and take me to baseball games? I've never been to see a sports game live, but I sometimes sit and try to understand the concept of basketball and the like. I suppose at twenty seven years old it's far too late to dwell on such things, but every now and then I keep coming to this path of wondering.
I shake the thoughts from my mind as the light turns green. It's a rainy sort of day, but I often enjoy taking a stroll during days like this. I suppose some things are just hard to let go of, regardless of how old I get. My biological father was in and out of my life up until I was sixteen. He was a drug addict, thief, whore-monger, abusive, and just an all-around bad guy. Still, as bad as he was, he claimed my siblings and I were the most important things to him. He sure did have a funny way of showing it though. His womanizing was so bad that he brought crabs, the STD, home and my mom had to pluck them from my sister and I. Really, how many people can say their father gave them crabs?
My mother never tried to sway our love for our father. Once we got a little older she was honest about the things he did, and to a point so was he. No, it was by his own actions that I developed a sense of disdain and, at one point, even hatred. Even now, having studied psychology and addiction, I feel as though he chose his vices over my siblings and I. All of my abandonment and self-esteem issues are rooted in his absence from my life. Any time I start a relationship I develop debilitating anxiety that they will leave me suddenly, and it can get so bad that I chase them away; a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of thing I suppose.
A stuffed rabbit in the window of a nearby toy store catches my eye. I smile while thinking of the nickname my great grandmother gave me as a child. Rabbit, because my name sounds very close to it. The happy thoughts are suddenly replaced by sad ones. She passed away several years ago, and now all I can do is visit my memories when I want to see her. As I am about to leave the rabbit plops forward; causing me to stop. Abruptly, the rabbit jumps onto its hind legs and dusts itself off. I stand there in disbelief and look around to check if anyone else was seeing this. People pass by, but nobody seems to notice.
I look back at the rabbit who is now running out the store door and down the street. Curious, I begin to follow it, but I struggle to keep up as he is running pretty fast for a stuffed animal. I am certain he won't make it past the street as there is far too much traffic. Still he continues on, and as he reaches the street he hops high into the air, turns to face me, and manages a small wave before shooting downward into the ground. Even then nobody bats an eye or takes a second glance. “I must be going mad,” I think to myself. Just then a voice rings out, “We're all a little mad here, aren't we?” This causes me to stop and examine my surroundings. Finally, somebody who has also seen him! Then I think, how could they have known what I was thinking? I would ask them if I could, but those around me continue on with their day as if I'm invisible. I look down to where the rabbit disappeared and I notice a manhole nearby. Aha! Surely that's the route he took, but would I really journey down to the sewers just to chase a hallucination?
As I stand there arguing with myself a man is running towards me with two police officers in close pursuit. He is carrying a sack of some sort, and he is hell-bent on escaping his pursuers. As he is about to pass me the two cops catch up to him and attempt to tackle him to the ground. In the fuss I get knocked forward and step out over the manhole. Before I can catch myself I plunge deep beneath the bustling city streets. I watch as the world above me is swallowed by a seemingly impenetrable darkness as I tumble further and further until I am completely engulfed by the persisting shadows.
“This hole is really deep. Surely I won't survive the ensuing fall.” I think to myself as I continue my descent into the nothingness. However, nothing ever comes of it. I fall deeper and deeper into the Earth with no end in sight. “Odd.” I say aloud, as I have always had the habit of talking to nobody in particular. “I've been falling for so long that it feels as though I'm not falling at all.” I reach out and recoil as I feel soil beneath my fingertips. I don't remember there being a collision from hitting the ground, but even stranger, I don't seem to be in a typical sewer. There's a significant absence of smells that I thought should be present. I stand while dusting myself off, and I look around in order to find some sense of direction. I could faintly make out a row of doors in front of me, and as I my eyes lock on them a faint light emanates from one of the key holes.
“Do you really want to step forward?” a deep and wise sounding voice echoes around me. With a strange sense of calm I answer, “Yeah, I kind of do.” The voice chuckles at my response, “Well, you certainly are forthcoming, that's good. The experience is better if you just continue forward without hesitation.” I grasp the doorknob in my hand, and I ask, “Who are you, and why am I here?” The voice stays silent for a few moments, and I begin to think I'm alone once again. Then he suddenly responds, “I am that which has always existed, and you are here to find the answers to your questions. Now go forward young one, and fear not the unknown. By the end you will understand.” With that I throw open the door and step through.
The darkness around me is replaced with bright colors that made everything in the landscape look fluorescent. Various forms of vegetation surround me; many I had never seen before. Then again I don't travel, so these could be local flora for all I knew. I continue on my obvious stress induced journey, while reminding myself to take some much needed time off of work, when I come across a giant teal-colored caterpillar sitting on top of a huge mushroom. Next to him sits a hookah which he casually huffs on from time to time. I consider my options, but it's obvious that I am dreaming. Why not humor myself and see what happens? “Excuse me, yeah hey there er... Mr. Caterpillar? Oh I see, MRS. Caterpillar! My apologies, no you are very gorgeous!” Great, I've already offended one of the locals, and I am in no place to make enemies. “What does it want, destroyer?!” She huffs out at me; blowing a triangle shaped cloud of vapor. I take a moment to gather myself before continuing, “Now I'm assuming this is Wonderland, right?” I've always been fond of the fairy tale. Call me weird, but I have a great fondness for strange things. I suppose this is where I would go if I was in a haze brought on by long work hours.
She takes another puff of her hookah and huffs out, “Don't ask me questions of which it already knows the answers, destroyer!” I lean against a nearby toadstool, “Now why do you keep calling me destroyer? I've caused nobody harm.” She begins to laugh which causes her to choke on her current puff. “Oh yes, and I suppose it expects me to believe that a creature whose species is responsible for the chaos in the upperland knows not why it is called this. I told you, stupid beast, do not ask me questions it already knows the answer to.” I sigh out of frustration. Of course she's not a fan of humans. I've got to admit, she does have a point. “Look, I won't waste your time with ideology and needless debate. I just wanted to know, what brought me here. What is it that I am supposed to be learning?”
She huffs another shaped cloud out at me before continuing, “It has brought itself here, and only it knows why.” I take a few moments to ponder it over as she continues to harass me, “No no no, please! Take it's time. We have nothing better to do but to entertain it. Why doesn't it bother the ragged rabbit?” A light bulb goes off over my head, and I do mean that literally. Of course! The rabbit brought me here, but why? I was thinking of my great grandmother, and before that I was wondering about my father. She groans, “That's it, stupid beast! That is why it is here; to seek out the answers to your questions, by the creator, must we do all of its thinking?” That was it, it had to be. My subconscious thoughts were always lingering on my father. I had to find out why he never gave us a chance; me a chance. “Thanks Mrs. Caterpillar! Enjoy the rest of your day!” I yell while running down the nearby path. She had started to ramble once again, but I was past that. No more stupid questions.
I continued on and happened across a ruckus. In the distance I could hear two individuals having at it as their house grew nearer. Crashing dishes and numerous thumping could be heard. “That's it, I've had it! I'm going to the dormouse's!” Suddenly an odd looking man with a tall top hat bursts through the doorway and quickly heads in my direction. I maneuver myself on the far side of the path in order to allow him passage. As he begins to pass me he turns in a huff, looks straight at me, and bellows, “Can you believe the nerve of that drunken fool?! All day long I hat, and hat, and hat away to provide for the two of us, and how does he repay me?” I stare in silence, and just the smallest amount of fear, while waiting for him to continue. He then yells, “What's the matter with you, don't you know how to speak?” I am taken back a bit by the outburst. I hadn't met this man before in my life, and I still don't know who he is even referring to. I cautiously proceeded, “Well, sir, considering we've just met, I couldn't say for certain.”
He looks me over a bit, and sighs in frustration. He had to have been going through quite the conundrum if he felt the need to vent to the first person walking down the street. He plops himself down on the ground; his face rests on his hands which are propped on his legs. “Well that's just swell, isn't it? Nobody has the answers. I'm just expected to deal with it, aren't I?” I look over at the strange man's house to see a brown hare clumsily stumble out the door with a bottle in hand. He loses his footing and falls to the ground. He just lays there motionless without any sign that he'd be getting up soon. Things were beginning to make sense. Well, as much as they could in a place like this. I take a seat next to the eccentric man; my eyes fixated ahead of us at some fluttering butter-bread flies. Don't ask, I have no clue. I thought about what Mr. issues had said, and without much hesitation the words just came to me, “You don't really, you know?” He continues to pout; his eyes focused on the ground in front of him. “I don't what?” he mumbles. I look over at him and add, “Deal with it.”
“Oh yeah, right...” he sneers. I look over my shoulder and see the hare is still passed out. I continue on, “Look, sometimes we can love someone so much that we want to expect the best out of them, but that's not really fair, to anyone.” He looks over at me warily, “Yeah? What do you mean?” I think back to my past “almost lovers,” and the words just figure themselves out. “It's good to have high hopes, but when somebody has proven to you that they can't be anything more than what they are you have two choices. The first one is you can accept them as they are which, honestly, will only make you unhappy.” He looks at me with his tear laden eyes. His speech is hesitant as he says, “What's the other?” I take a deep breath and look up at the sky; almost praying for guidance. “The other is like removing a thorn from your foot. At first it will hurt, it may even bleed a little, and you might have a limp in your walk. However, once it's gone you'll eventually feel relief. There will be a hole where the thorn once lived, but it will mend until you no longer even remember it was there in the first place.”
Oddly enough it felt like I came to a realization of my own. I had to stop worrying about making the wrong people happy and focus on my own happiness. The only men in my life that wanted to stay were the ones who took advantage of my fears and worries. I look over to him as he seems to be studying my face. Our eyes lock, and I could tell he understood me completely. He introduced himself only as “The Hatter,” and even though we were little more than strangers I could feel a connection with him as if I had known him my whole life. That's when the hare woke up and got violent, and we had to call the cops. The whole ordeal was a mess, but Mr. Hatter thanked me and pointed me to the place of employment for the rabbit. I was more shocked that a stuffed animal could hold down a job, but hey, it's not my place to judge. I also didn't want to be bigoted. I'm sure stuffed creatures were just as capable as real ones.
This brought me to the Duchess's house, and boy was that an experience. You see, she was having an affair with her cook, but the cook was tired of living a lie and wanted to run away with the Duchess. There was something about pigs, babies, and her husband Bill who happened to be a lizard. I wasn't paying attention. Anyways, I found the rabbit sitting by the garden as he toiled away at the cucumbers. As I get nearer he looks up at me and smiles, as weird as that sounds. He is a stuffed animal after all, but that wasn't the oddest thing I'd seen today. “Ah, Mary Anne! I'm so glad you were able to make it!” he chimed in gleefully. He stabs his shovel into the ground and takes a few hops towards me. Confused, I answered, “Mary Anne? Clearly I am not a woman, and just for the record my name is--” Before I could finish he holds up his hand, “Enough of your nonsensical banter, Marry Anne. I need you to help me tend to the garden.” I let my head hang in defeat. After the day I had been having I figure it's best not to argue with figments of my imagination. I grab the shovel and turn to face him, “Very well, what's to be done?”
A few hours later I smile as I look around at all I had accomplished. “You see what you can get done if you put in a little effort?” the rabbit says, knowingly. I smile to myself, “Yeah, I guess I didn't do that bad, did I?” The rabbit nods and continues, “That's something you have to remember later on. Nothing will ever happen if you don't take the first step.” I nod in agreement, and the two of us head back to the kitchen where the Duchess, Bill, and the cook continued to argue. The rabbit had told me of another engagement he had which was working the Queen's annual ball, and I decided I would tag along. Anything was better than staying there. Far be it for me to involve myself in the affairs of lizards, cooks, and duchesses. It did remind me that I needed to be more decisive in my life. I think it's high time I went back to school and continue my journey into higher education. First, I needed to end my current journey which I'm sure is the product of my late night gaming sessions.