Every night my dad would tuck me into bed. We had tickle fights and said our prayers, but what I remember most is when he read to me. He’d read me any book I wanted, and nine out of ten times, it was a Little Golden Book fairy tale. He’d crack open the foil spine and read, “Once upon a time.” The white walls would fade away as Daddy’s voice filled the room. Clutching my stuffed elephant, I craned my neck to see the pictures.
As time went on, I noticed how not all stories were exactly the same. Sometimes two different books with the same title had completely different plot lines. I had another book with a pink cover that had an assortment of fairy tales and children’s poetry. One of them was the story of Aladdin, which was quite different to the 1992 Disney Classic. In this version, there were two genies as opposed to just the one I had grown accustomed to from the movie. I also saw the same pattern of dissimilarities with the Little Mermaid and various narrations of Rapunzel. I was completely baffled until I came to the only conclusion my six-year-old mind could offer: not all stories were the same because storytellers changed them.
This was revolutionary. If I didn’t like an ending, who was to say I needed to accept it? I could bend a fictional world to my will and the characters would be subject to whatever fate I presented them with. So I began to walk. I walked around our entire house and out back until I had nowhere else to go but back inside and around the coffee the table. And around and around I walked. All the while I thought to myself, what if Aladdin never found the lamp? What would have happened to the Genie? Would the Genie have stayed in the Cave of Wonders forever? Would Aladdin still have pursued a relationship with the Sultan’s daughter, or would he have given up on that dream? I circled that coffee table over and over, never tiring of the constant motion of one foot in front of the other. I was a hamster without a wheel.
I never stopped walking. Today, my coffee table is a small university in Oregon, full of paths with twists and turns and hills. All the while I am still thinking, dreaming, designing, and writing.
I’m Lauren The Largemouth Bass and this has been an almost underrated blog post.