Growing up as a teen in the late eighties was not good for a girl with an imagination like mine.
I absorb myself in works of fiction/art and they live in my head for years and years and years. Whilst reading Anne of Green Gables, I was a spirited red-head living on Prince Edward Island at the turn of the century; when reading Pride and Prejudice, I am a strong-willed yet shy and penniless woman in Edwardian England; during Harry Potter, I think in an English accent and have magical powers, and while in the Twilight world, I am ensconced in the awesome green, gray, and soggy world of Forks, WA.
Movies stick with me for days. I hear the dialog in my head and live in the world where they take place over and over. After seeing The Adjustment Bureau, every door was a new possibility to tempt fate, as long as I was wearing a hat. Seeing Titanic had me floating to new adventures only to end up flooded, freezing, and nearly drowning. The visuals presented in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (the Baz Luhrmann one with Claire Daines and Leonardo DiCaprio) still spin around in my brain.
I can’t look at disturbing works of art and enjoy them because they stay with me forever. I see them when I close my eyes. The works of Emily Carr make me dizzy even when I’m not looking at them. I hate Pablo Picasso’s paintings because they are too jarring and disturbing to me. They echo in my brain and give me nightmares.
On the other hand, Vincent Van Gough’s bright colours energize me. The works of impressionists like Claude Monet calm and soothe me. I think that Andy Warhol is a genius.
Characters and visuals stay with me, live with me and are my friends. They come to me in my dreams. They dance and bounce around in my head when I close my eyes (and sometimes then they’re open).
When I was a teen, horror movies were enjoying a very popular run. Freddie with his dreams, Jason with his hockey mask, and Michael Myers were stars. The Lost Boys ran amuck. My mum would remark that the only reason they were popular when she was young was so that the guys could get the girls to jump in their laps at the drive-in.
The cool thing to do was to go and see these horrible movies in the theatre. We would go in a huge group as one of us was usually seventeen (old enough to get into an R rated movie) and would buy all of our tickets and then we would all go in and get our faces scared off. Invariably, I would end up in the lap of one of my friends with my face buried in his shoulder, only rarely peeking through my fingers when things were a little too quiet. I guess my mother was right.
For the weeks following I would sleep with the light on, my door open (so I could see them coming to get me), my closet door closed (so they couldn’t get me), and the blankets over my head (so they couldn’t see me or touch me). I would have to read benign stories and listen to the radio to drown out my imagination so that I could actually fall asleep. Closing my eyes to fall asleep was NOT an option because I would only see the monsters coming to get me. I had to pass out reading.
When my sister was trying to convince me to read the Harry Potter books, one of the reasons I gave her for not following the masses was that they were about witches and magic and my imagination runs away with me too much. I can’t read books like that because they live in my head and mess with my psyche. Her response was a) these books are definitely NOT like that (I know that now, as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is permanently etched in my mind and Hermione Granger Weasley is one of my best friends), and b) “but you watched all those horror movies when you were a teenager! I always thought you were so cool when you would go and see them.”
That was just it. I did it because it was cool. I put up with the no sleeping and looking over my shoulder and horrible dreams for weeks because everyone else was doing it or because there were cute guys there. (for me to jump in their laps) The motivating forces in my life from ages Thirteen to Twenty-five were mostly either; 1) it was fun, 2) it was cool or made me cool or look cool, or 3) it involved impressing boys. I look back and CRINGE at the things I did in my youth because of these motivations.
Thank goodness I have become a grown up and have moved on from those motivations. Well, at least the third one.