July 23, 2007

My mother discovered very early on that I was perfectly content to keep my own company. Apparently as an infant and early toddler, I would wake up in the morning and play by myself in my crib until Mom could wake up at her own pace and be ready to face her day. Of course, by the time I was seriously toddling, Mom figured out VERY quickly that a quiet Red Monkey was not necessarily the good thing she'd once thought it was.

There was the day that I grabbed my little blue chair and dragged it to the baby gate, unlatched the gate and then grabbed the ... of all things! ... Vaseline. Apparently I remembered to lock the baby gate behind me when I went back to my room. Mom only figured out that I'd escaped (again) because I left my little blue chair there next to the gate. Well, that and the Vaseline on every available surface that I could climb. (And I enjoyed climbing.)

My imagination was a machine in overdrive. Blue curtains turned my room into the ocean (particularly after watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks). A piece of packaging from Mom's acrylic paints would become a spaceship. A book served multiple purposes (including a passport to somewhere else, once I was old enough to read).

Just before I turned four, however, I got the one companion which became my constant, my conscience and my stability.

I was born in Amarillo, but we moved when I was simply tiny, a babe in arms. My parents moved to Houston. Another apartment in Houston. Then, Dad moved out to Albuquerque on what was to be a temporary trouble-shooting job. Mom did not want to move us again, so she and I stayed in Houston. I turned two. Three. I got my first hit of Fisher Price Little People, and let me tell you, I was hooked. I'd just lost all of my stuffed animals, so these little wooden guys were a delight. I suppose they were a distraction from the fact that Dad was gone. And, like is typical for the age, the Little People family became my family. The blue mom with the intense curls became my mom, even though my mom's hair was a deep auburn-red and not blond ... and certainly never pulled back into a plastic ponytail. The dad became my dad. The little blue girl with blond pigtails became me. At least, I named her with my name.

Finally, deciding that the Albuquerque posting was more permanent than previously thought, we moved there to join Dad. It lasted just another three months. Then, we moved to Oklahoma City, the city of my mother's mother. Was it six months? Nine? Ten? Eventually I began cutting up the plastic plates brought back from the hospital where my mom was "getting" my little sister and creating accessories and homes for my little wooden family.

Then it was Carmel, Indiana. Our first (and thank the gods, the ONLY) foray out of the south. My sister followed in my footsteps and was still a babe in arms when we moved. My little wooden family had friends now ... a yellow and blue house ... an airport ... a houseboat.

We drove down the road, southwards ... and a snow plow driver was moving from car to car. The snow was coming down in near white-out conditions and no one wanted to be out here. Not wanting to wait ... and knowing the traffic wasn't really going anywhere anyhow, Dad went out to see what was up. Came back pale as the snow falling around us. We, and the whole line of cars in front of us and behind us, were driving in the ditch instead of the road. The snow pack could give way at any moment.

We finally arrived back in Texas. In Austin. Imaginative and creative, I still could be maddeningly literal-minded at five. I was ready to start school instantly upon arrival. I'd been asking for years when I could go ... Mom had said after we move. Well, we were moved! I was ready.

But with a November birthday, I was going to have to wait until fall.

That wooden family had tons of friends by now and they all had the most incredible adventures. I rarely used the adults anymore. Just the kids. The adults were nearly always bad guys or at least, people to ditch so we, I mean so the kid wooden people could get on with what they needed to do.

My sister grew old enough to begin to play with me. We took turns picking who got which guys. Choosing up our sides, our teams. I always picked that little green boy, the oddball of my first family. Mom, Dad, me ... and the little green boy, who didn't exist in the real world.

I started school finally. Kindergarten and first grade in Pillow Elementary. Second grade, it was off to Catholic school. I hated it. Back to Pillow for third. Teacher-Parent conference.

Suddenly, we moved again. The first six weeks spent at the beloved Pillow, and then off to the unknown. With those wooden peoples. I was bounced from class to class a bit when I first arrived at the new elementary school, but then things seemed to settle. Fourth grade, fifth ... sixth. Junior high. Halfway through the second of three Jr. High years, I'm moved to the other Jr. High. Then it's high school.

There were several constants in my life. Moving was one of those constants. My mom, dad and sister were others.

The one stable, consistent and positive constant was one which no one but me seemed to know was so important. Over the years, this one bit of dowel and paint had come to mean potential. Had come to mean both hope and happiness. I had endowed him with everything that I wanted to be ... and didn't think that I was. I had created a character who was every bit as real to me as the other members of my family, despite the fact that I did know he was nothing more than a sliver of wood and a large chunk of imagination. He'd been through the bulk of the moves - at least the ones that I could remember.

(Click for the larger picture.)

My ghost ... 35 years later ... he still lives with me ... Chris.

... done with Copics, Pigma Microns and Copic Multiliners.

Entry for the HeartSong contest for July.

Posted by Red Monkey at July 23, 2007 5:53 AM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

What a wonderfully written and powerful post. Brings back a lot of thoughts of history and beginnings. Thank you for sharing and thank you for writing!


July 23, 2007 5:36 AM


Anne said:

OUTSTANDING READ...............I really enjoyed it!

July 23, 2007 6:00 PM


paisley said:

that is such a touching piece.... there is no place like home... unless you take "home" with you... and you certainly have... what an awesome possession......

July 23, 2007 9:21 PM


Colleen said:

This piece was wonderful! I remember growing up with the wooden people. But they certainly didn't mean the same to me as they did to you. Thank you for sharing this!

July 24, 2007 11:20 AM


Gaboatman said:

Excellent Essay Contest entry, very well written. I enjoyed reading this. Good luck in the contest!

July 24, 2007 6:45 PM


Marie said:

Loved your essay,well written!
Totally enjoyed it!
Good Luck~

July 24, 2007 9:12 PM


Charles said:

This reminds me of my squeaky...I still have him too. This is a wonderful post. I moved a lot when I was a child, but never out of the city. Wow that must have been a bit difficult.

July 25, 2007 10:30 PM


Jodi said:

...she is coloring again...

tee hee...My word endy! Its perfect! I love the post too...Man I am so jealous of your talent!

July 26, 2007 5:34 AM


Kristal said:

Ohh... This bring back memories.. I just loved the originial little people.. me and my sisters had our basement floor deck out with the whole little people town.. My favorite was the tree house. A wonderful entry...

  • A Poetic Dreamers Soul
  • July 26, 2007 6:26 PM


    Kelly said:

    wonderfully written. i SO remember when Little People used to look like that!

    July 30, 2007 12:56 AM


    Astaryth said:

    What a wonderful entry. Very vivid. I feel as if I know the little green guy A very fitting entry for Judith's Contest

    July 30, 2007 6:43 PM


    Tammy said:

    Incredible journey! The recollection is amazing...I just loved those Little People (right next to Weeble Wobbles).

    Red Monkey says: Wow, I'm just loving the response to this post ... I think this is the most comments I've ever gotten on a single post. Jodi, gotta thank ya for the comment on the art ... I was hoping I'd get some feedback on that.
    I've really enjoyed reading other folks' Artsy entries as well. Hehehe ... being laid off at the moment, it's been a delight to read other people's essays ... and to get a little bit of validation for why I don't particularly want to have to move to a new state just to find a job at the moment! I'm tired of moving!!
    Thanks everyone! (can't wait to see the last entries roll in!)
    July 31, 2007 12:42 PM


    Indigo said:

    A wonderful journey back in time remembering my own little people and wondering what became of them. We had some pretty novelty toys back in our time didn't we? Thank you! for posting this little rememberance. (Hugs) Indigo

    July 31, 2007 10:34 PM


    BArbara said:

    Clear to see why the little people were such an important part of your life. No wonder you treasure them and all the memories they hold now.

    August 2, 2007 7:45 AM


    Psychfun said:

    Oh I remember that wooden family well & the Weeble Wobbles!

    August 3, 2007 1:57 AM
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