Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Superest

The laptop is on the fritz, and -- being an Apple product -- requires some travel to the nearest qualified service center in a thriving city about an hour and a half north of here. Living in a small town on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border puts me close to a lot of historical sites and within three or four hours of some big cities, but it also means I'm in somewhat of a hinterland.

I like that word: hinterland. It's old, it has heft, and there's a cool cadence to it.

Moving on.

Not that I mind hinterland. It's quieter here. In my town (which now boasts four stoplights), I can hit the post office, the bank, the grocery store, and the video store in the span of fifteen minutes. I can go all the way across town to my favorite gas station, fill up the truck, and take "the long way" home, and still only use up maybe twenty minutes. Twenty-two, if the lights are against me and there's traffic.

What does any of this have to do with adventures in fiction?

It's in small towns like this that I grew up, learned to explore, first let my imagination go free. Not at first did space ships or dragons play any part in that imagination. While other kids played cops-and-robbers, or spread their arms wide and ran around like superheroes, I walked among the trees and looked up at their sky-scraping branches and pretended to be a pioneer crossing the continent, a scout mapping the New World, or an Indian on a hunt. Then I discovered superheroes, and imagined all sorts of fantastical powers for myself. I was, of course, the superest of superhumans. Which led to fights with my cousins and brother. After all, who doesn't want to be the superest?

A couple days ago, a friend shared an awesome idea for a story, and it reminded me of daydreams and nightmares and bizarre tales of the fantastical that I read when I was a kid. And it punched me in the gut, too, because I realized how much of a grownup I've become, and how little of that crazy imagination remains. Where's my sense of wonder? My belief that just because you say it isn't so doesn't mean it can't be so? After all, I made it up, didn't I? Must mean it's possible. Eventually.

Yesterday afternoon, while I burned trash and sticks and tossed dead leaves over the flames just to watch them drift upward with the smoke, I realized the little kid isn't gone. He just needs a reason to come out and play.

So maybe I'll be writing silly things during the next few months. Maybe they'll be totally insane. Maybe -- if I put my arms out wide and run as if there's a cape on my back -- maybe they'll be super.

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