I’ve always had a pretty vivid imagination. And once upon a time, I wasn’t the jaded cynicist that I am today. That was back when I was 4 or 5. I was attending pre-kindergarten at a private school in Garden Grove and my best friend in the world was a girl named Beth. I don’t know what ever happened to Beth, but I’d love to know. That girl sure could tell a story.
Anyway, we were on the playground talking one day and a bunch of us decided it would be fun to take a trip together. One of the boys’ father flew helicopters in the military so he offered one up to take us to our destination which I think was Washington, DC. Or maybe we were going to the mountains. I can’t remember, but it’s not important.
We had big plans. Some of us were going to bring the food, others would bring sleeping bags. We talked about what we would pack and how long we planned to be gone. It all sounded like a fabulous plan and I was so excited to tell my mom about it when she picked me up that day. I can’t really remember how she reacted, but I’m guessing she did the smile and nod routine that I am now so familiar with as the mom of a kid with endless imagination.
When I got home, I shared my plans with my Gram (who we lived with at the time), too. I imagine that they both could barely hold in their laughter at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. I went back to my room and carefully packed my bag. I loaded it up with essentials (like dolls and doll clothes, I’m sure) and zipped it closed. And then I carried it out to the garage where I would wait. The helicopter was supposed to be picking me up at any moment.
I parked myself on the step leading into the garage from which I could see out into the street. I waited and waited. And waited. If I remember correctly, I even refused to go in for dinner. I imagine maybe we had plans to go to dinner via helicopter that night or something. I must have sat there for a long time. It had been dark for a while when they finally made me come back in.
I can’t remember how I reacted, but I’m guessing I did my best to keep a brave face in front of my Mom and Gram. I think I must have known that they realized all along I was never getting picked up by a helicopter and I was probably embarrassed that I hadn’t known too. Every time they tell that story, the five-year-old in me has her heart broken all over again. It’s kind of tragic, but also a little bit funny.