If you have siblings you’ll understand the scenario. I’m eleven, and I’ve just lost an argument to my brothers, and my mother has sided against me. I’m running to my room and I shout out, “It’s not fair!” as I slam the door shut behind me. I run my fingers through my hair ready to pull it out by how infuriated I am. This was a seemingly normal occurrence in my childhood. I laugh about it now, but it was critical at the time.
What I didn’t know was an idea would spark that day, which would stay with me for many years.
I was an introverted child in a family of extroverts. If you don’t know what an extrovert is, just look at the person at a social event who is talking the most, the loudest and is always taking charge. Now imagine growing up with five of them in small quarters with you being the only introvert. If you don’t know what an introvert is just look at the person at the same social event who looks like they were were forced to come, and are attempting to mingle..
I was homeschooled so my bedroom was my place of solace. I was the only child I knew who was happy when their parents sent them to their room. My four isolating walls were the only protection I had from the never ending conundrum of who I was and if I mattered in light of my take-charge family. It was a place where I could create and be content with myself without correction or criticism.
I would create my own worlds and realities with what toys and random objects I could find to engineer together. I’d turn the scenes in my head into mini landscapes on my floor. I’d build trees out of my cheerleading pom poms. Then I’d grab my football helmet’s chinstrap to use as a hammock tied between my pom pom trees so Barbie could relax near her pink fabric ocean. I’d use broken deer antlers for pretty much any forest, ocean or mountain scenes. So my room was not only an escape but a treasure chamber of broken and rejected appliances from the real world.
It was there, that day in my room I had had enough of being alone, enough of fighting alone, enough of not being heard. I let go. I began wrecking my room, throwing toys and creations off their shelf’s hearing them crash on the floor. I probably would have gone on to wreck my entire room, flipping over furniture and the whole shebang, but I grabbed a ziplock bag of rubber bands. The bag was packed full of bands of every size and color. As I ripped the plastic open, a burst of colors scattered all over my floor. It was colorful chaos. A perfect depiction of my emotional state.
I don’t remember how long I cried, but I do remember when I looked up from the sobs. I sat up in front of the mess and I don’t know why but I started loosely stacking the rubber bands one slightly on top of another. Never stacking the same color twice. I’d start with the largest of the bands and I’d stack down to the smallest band. A head and body formed next and within an hour I had created a beautiful rubber band Peacock. It was once a mess but now it was an eleven-year-old’s masterpiece.
It was then, looking at the beautiful bird, I no longer felt alone. The Peacock was there with me. It knew what no one else cared to know about me. It knew the truth of the argument that had taken place and knew just because I was out numbered against my brothers didn’t mean I wasn’t telling the truth. Because it was truth.
I felt like I had discovered a superpower. With a few random things I could make something matter. I could take a mess and make it meaningful.
I was still angry at my mother but she came in my room a few hours later and saw the Peacock creation on my floor and said, “Wow, that’s beautiful.” My anger left as I realized I might not have been heard that day, but I had been seen. I left the Peacock on my floor for about a month and I never forgot about it.
More than ten years later I am seeing a vision of a woman on a mountain, Zella. No one hears her, no one sees her, and she is completely alone. Or is she? I remember my Peacock that kept me company as a child. I remember all the strange things I used to create stories with for my toys.
The guardians became easy to write then. Zella knew Hudson, Courage, Strength, Wisdom, Knowledge and all the others the way I knew the Peacock. Created in a lonely place to accomplish a greater purpose. Being heard. Being seen. Being found. Being cared for. They loved her the way the Peacock loved me because the Peacock was me. A characteristic of who I was.
So the guardians became for Zella what my rubber band Peacock was for me. They heard her. They saw her. They fought for her. They loved her. And boy they were fun to write. 😉
P.S. I still to this day don’t remember what the argument was about. LOL