The reason I started my blog and my podcast was because this phrase came into my head: “Words are magic”. Note I haven’t added the typical “k” at the end of the word magic. I don’t acknowledge that the magic of illusionists or stage performers count as magic. To me what they do is tricks and optical work or performance. Magic, to me, is the sense of wonder in the everyday. And if you don’t know something and you see it unfold it’s magic. Of course once you know the intricacies and dynamics and know what it’s called then the thing has it’s form. But I don’t think it’s any less magical. The wonder is still there and wonder increases when a person wants to know more. Magic I think can be many things to many people in a variety of different ways. Rather like words. Words hold power. Words transform. Words are adaptable. Anyone can wield words–whether spoken or written. To the extent I wish I had given my youth over to the power of poetry. I see and have seen so many young people devote themselves to poetry–spoken word poetry, slam poetry–all kinds. Rather I am slow and late to the party of giving over everything to poetry. Perhaps in this slow and measured way there is a chance of longevity or at least just enough curiosity to keep me going. Then again, I haven’t written anything substantial in over a year. So the magic of words is in what I’ve already written. To speak them aloud and perchance to give them and me a new lease on creativity. Another way to rediscover writing with the hope the secret to my writing will come again.

To me the draw to Oscar Wilde and poetry felt akin to magic, or perhaps it really is magic. I never considered myself to be anything but ordinary. While I didn’t have a conventional upbringing I didn’t consider anything about my life or my family to be extraordinary. Even now, all the years that have passed and there is no longer a glimmer of interest in people’s eyes when I tell them about a few of my experiences. It may be the world, thanks in part to technology, isn’t so big that living in four countries in one life time isn’t that impressive. Or perhaps if it isn’t the experience of the listener then it’s blase? Anyway, to the youth who viewed her life as one ordinary happening after another. She had gone through and struggled with regular schooling and never fitted in anywhere. Not in her family (she believed) nor with her peers (she knew) and had heard the usual “What are you going to be when you grow up? Lawyer? Nurse? Teacher?” Nothing seemed to be a fit for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to be (I still don’t years later) and I didn’t know how to navigate an increasingly baffling and confusing world. I felt like I was slow to everything. Slow to learn how to read, write and do the basic functions as everyone else around me seemed to run at. If there was one thing I really was particularly bad at and that was running. All around me kids my age were leaping into things with both feet. Especially in school all the kids were hitting their milestones with regularity and they had no problem communicating with each other and their teachers. Whereas I…whereas I was always silent, always in a state of panic and dreaded fear. I felt behind and at a loss with everything. The one saving grace I thought I achieved was “Teacher’s pet”. All that turned out to be was more work and the praise I thought I was due for diligence never happened and the other kids disliked me even more. I would look at my much older siblings (five and ten years older than me) and my much older parents (41 and 42 when I was born) and felt left out of so much. Nothing made sense to me day after day and I was always trying to fend off feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. As many children I did debate the existence of magic in the world. The magic that was typically seen on children’s television–witches, wizards, spells, potions, ghosts and demons. I decided early on that those things didn’t exist because I’d never seen them. I also felt if I dismissed these things I would be taken seriously by adults and the perplexing world of childhood would dissipate into the world of adults. A world I foolishly believed was much better suited to me. A world where I’d finally understand and be understood. I’m still misguided on that. And yet…

And yet there was my mother who allowed and encouraged a sense of wonder in me. When I was with my mother and not in school I was a happy child. She encouraged me to be creative, to explore and to feel that while I didn’t fit into my world it would fit around me. She told me about fairies that sat on the heads of dandelions and when we blew the heads we set the fairies free. She told me how a bird flying over head held the soul of a deceased loved one. She showed me the delight of words in books, even when I struggled to read when I was eight years old. My mother encouraged me to write even when I didn’t understand words and their power. I always loved the ideas of words and reading when I was around her. It gave her such joy to read books, newspapers and house ideas. It was a joy to watch her write letters and I strongly believed one day I would know all the mysteries of words as she did. One of the reasons I wanted to grow up quickly. I wanted to sit at the table with my family and converse with my ideas and my knowledge. I longed to know as much as they all did and be able to hold my own. But for so long, it felt then, that words confounded me and I couldn’t learn them. They were slippery and illusive when I stared them on the page. My sister had read stories to me as a young child. Alone staring at these black letters nothing would yield to me of their secrets. The teacher always had a frown in her voice when I could read but very little. I hated reading out loud when words where beyond my understanding. But I loved the idea of words. One day I’d be able to pick up a book on my own and read the whole thing. The next step was remembering what I read. That would come much later. At this point I’m between the ages of eight and eleven years old.

While I was certain magic didn’t exist, at least not for me, maybe for others. I was ordinary after all. But, there was always something in the back of my mind that was unusual. I felt no one else was like me. All these years later I can’t really describe what I thought or what I felt. I used to think I had a very active imagination. A tool, if you will, to survive school and all the things I didn’t understand. A deeper connection to something else…A lot of my childhood I didn’t understand then was impacted by the fact my parents had lost a child before I was born. A child that had just managed to make his teenager years and that was all–all in terms of age. He was very advanced for his age group. His life was like a shadow in mine. I made up stories in my mind about him–I even attempt to write them down…never quite making anything concrete. For the longest time who he was to me was illusive. Now that I think of it he was rather like learning to read. Never quite grasping the fullness of who he was and far beyond my comprehension. I hoped one day, like reading, I’d get there and meet him (in my mind). And as much as I feared and hated death, because of the death of my eldest brother, it fascinated me as well. I was very curious about the devil. Did that make me bad? We weren’t a religious family, however, I was aware of religion and good versus evil. I don’t know how much that impacted me. I loved the idea of witches and witchcraft. Well, the witches I grew up with were into bad stuff. Turning people into frogs, or mice, eating children, wearing big black pointy hats. It was thrilling to me to be a witch. I was a witch at Halloween for two or three years, before I quit Halloween when I was 13. What I didn’t know then was that in this fraught period between 12 and 13 magic was slowly seeping into my life. But not in any obvious ways. More on that later.

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