WordBowl Word-of-the-Day brought to us by The Letter H
Dream Weaver, Music Maker
Brandologist who once created a Letter C just for me.
The Map of the Land of Make Believe — matted, framed, under glass — a gift from my Nana, hung on the wall of what was briefly my bedroom but as the largest in the house, became the shared domain of my three young brothers, who ignored the Land of Make Believe entirely.
The map rendered with cartographer’s care, the significant stories placed in geographic context: Pinocchio in the belly of a whale off a coast, Hansel & Gretel bread-crumbing though an Eastern European forest, the Snow Queen in her sleigh flying across a Nordic tundra, Ants and Grasshoppers holding court in a clearing, Snow White with her dwarves in close proximity to the Three Little Pigs defending their home against the Wolf’s bluster, Sinbad sailing the Seven Seas, Scheherazade in a Middle Eastern palace.
And at the edge of the map, a cow, a moon.
I spent hours tracing journeys across the global expanse, Grimm to Christian Anderson to Aesop, fairy tale mash-ups. Voyages every bit as real as crisscrossing the country, watching my father play ball, playing connect-the-stadium-dots, before our burgeoning family settled into a blip of a landlocked Southern town.
During the peripatetic years my parents often left me with Nana, her Houston home a travel hub between our San Francisco base, my father’s native New Orleans, Phoenix for Spring Training. Nana, in polyester pantsuits and cat-eye glasses, driving us in her faux-wood paneled station wagon, instructing me to imagine raindrops on the windshield as ice skaters, asking me to describe each in detail, their costumes, their routines.
Nana, widowed early, a near life-long single parent of five children, was a believer in make-believe, indulgence, escapes. Nana was ice cream and waffles for dinner on meatless Fridays observed out of Catholic habit, desserts and Diet Dr. Pepper, grandiose garage sale gifts (unstrung folk guitar, encyclopedia set missing only a single volume).
And, later, when I finished with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Nana handed me her cast-off Agatha Christie mysteries and wildly age-inappropriate pulpy paperback novels.
She taught me her favorite card games, Pounce, Double Solitaire, some convoluted Gin Rummy-esque thing called Zioncheck. We whiled away whole weekends, cards slapping sharp against the table or landing precariously on my lumpy bedspread. One humid afternoon, in the midst of a particularly close game of Double Sol, a couple of cards fell from her sleeve. I may not have noticed had she not started so violently, scrabbling to shove them back up her sleeve, slip them into the discard pile.
My Nana, cardsharp, hustler, cheater.
The stories I knew were of heroes and villains, knights in shining armor, evil queens, pure princesses. Stories which left me unprepared for the nuances of Nana.
I closed my eyes, envisioned the Land of Make Believe, wished upon a star to return to a black and white world of Happily Ever After.
It took TWO villages (east, west) to raise this post
The Beagle, east village, nyc
Bakehouse, west village-meets-meatpacking district, nyc
caffeine & smoothy fuel from 11th Street Cafe, west village, nyc
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