I should be taking this time to write more on the Cemetery Tours sequel (or you know… sleep), but I have words in my head and they will not let me rest until I let them out. So here it goes.
I hung out with some of my excellent, very good friends tonight. These friends are hilarious, often inappropriate, and have introduced me to the heartbreaking and yet enthralling television series, Game of Thrones. I have yet to read the books, because I hear they are longer and bloodier than the Bible, but I’ll probably get around to them eventually. That is, if the series doesn’t just completely rip my heart out and leave me dying on the floor like just about every character in this franchise.
As awesome and wonderful as my friends are though, a few of them are also incredibly realistic (yes, I am saying that like it’s a dirty word). They’re big fans of things like science and politics, and they’re pretty vocal about the world’s problems and how they believe those problems should be solved. Tonight, they were talking about education, specifically the private vs. public vs. home school debate. I’m not going to go into what was said, because frankly it was long and heated and I don’t remember most of the conversation anyway, but at one point, I overheard one of them say, “It’s just awful to teach kids *insert controversial opinion that I really don’t want to inflict upon my readers*. You might as well teach them to believe in dragons.”
And it was at that point that I had to go and open my big mouth.
Me: “You know, there are dragon legends in cultures all around the world.”
Realistic Friend: “Yeah, that’s because there are lizards all around the world.”
Me: “We even have a needlepoint dragon pillow in our church because St. George fought and killed a dragon.”
Realistic Friend: *Ignores me and goes back to being realistic*
Just in case you’re wondering, no, I do not actually believe in dragons. I would love to believe in them, but sadly, I am a moderately intelligent person and I know that dragons exist solely in myth and fantasy. But when you think about it, who’s to say that makes them any less real? I’ve read several books that were far more real to me than certain things about this “real world” that we live in.
For example, when I was thirteen years old, my father lost his job. Both he and my mother had to work two jobs to keep the family going, while I was left at home to watch over my sister, who was only six at the time. The next few years were incredibly rough. My family lost everything except for our house, which, looking back on it now, was a huge blessing and a miracle. My mother, who’d lost both her mother and her best friend, had no one to turn to, so she talked to me about our family’s financial crisis. I was only 14-15 years old, and I didn’t know what to do or how to help her. She told me other stuff too that I won’t repeat on this blog, but I will tell you that it was something that a 14-year-old should never have to hear. At one particularly low point, I broke down sobbing right in the middle of my first period class and had to be escorted to the counselor’s office.
I promise, I’m not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me or because I still feel sorry for me. It’s in the past and I’ve been working each and every day to live for the future and not let what is dead and gone drag me backwards. I’m just trying to set the scene, to give you sort of an idea why my brain works the way it does.
During this horrible, awful, no-good, very bad time in my life, I had one saving grace. Well, as a Christian, I suppose I had two saving graces. One, of course, was God. The other… was Harry Potter.
Okay, yes, I’m a nerd, a huge nerdy fangirl, but put yourself in my shoes. I was too young to go out and do things for myself. Even if I had been old enough, I had to stay home most of the time to watch my sister while my parents worked. Harry Potter was my escape, and Hogwarts, my sanctuary. I needed that refuge, that time to not be smothered by thoughts of doubt and bankruptcy and fear. Thanks to those books, I spent my days, and often my nights, exploring Hogsmeade, playing Quidditch, and fighting alongside the Order of the Phoenix (the final two books hadn’t been released yet). And let me tell you, all of that was so much more real to me than all the crap that the “real world” was trying to throw at me.
Maybe some will argue that turning to fantasy isn’t healthy, or that it can’t really help, and maybe it didn’t help us with our struggles or financial needs, but it saved me in a way that being realistic never could. It saved my spirit. It kept my sense of wonder and hope and awe and adventure alive, even when the world was trying as hard as it could to kill it. There have been times in my life when I truly thought that such strife might devour me, that I might lose myself to the callousness and cruelty of what is supposedly real. But every time I’ve come close, that small part of me remembers what it’s like to read those books for the first time. Not only that, it remembers how it felt the first time I touched a dolphin, the time my grandmother taught me how to tie my shoes, the first time I held my newborn kitten (who is now almost 21), the day my parents told me I was going to be a big sister. The girl who lived through those moments would never let herself succumb to fear and doubt. That girl believes in hope, in beauty, in miracles. She believes in the goodness of life and the power of love.
She also happens to believe in dragons.