The Fairy Tale of Mallory Blayne
On a regular morning in the Jordan household, you could find me slipping on my silk gloves, high heels and assortment of unmatched jewelry. I couldn’t be late for breakfast, lest I miss out on the limited sugar crunch specialty of the day. I would add the final touch to my ensemble – an oversized, flowery hat – and strut out, ready to conquer the world...in my pajamas.
I grew up a fairly average, boyband loving, self-proclaimed Disney princess. But my imaginary friends and dress-up games went beyond wanting to find my prince charming. I found solace in creating my own worlds, sometimes finding inspiration from other worlds, and playing them out in my head.
I once had a babysitter express concern to my mom that I was too obsessed with the musical group, Hanson. Little did she understand, I wasn’t simply obsessed with their music (or their adorable faces), but the individual, real world in which they lived. I imagined what their lives must be like and inserted myself in those shaped assumptions, creating one of my very own little worlds.
It is often said that everyone loses these childhood visions as adulthood naturally fades the magic away. For me, these feelings stuck with me throughout high school in different forms. I moved up from Hanson to Panic! at the Disco, to musicals, and to the haunting worlds Tim Burton mastered with the sexual inspiration called Johnny Depp. I was not stinted in my childhood, by any means, but I used my overactive imagination from childhood to help me get through the normal teenage angst and family issues that I faced, some beyond my mental capacity.
While my brother often called me out on my fairytale obsessions with romance and boys, I loved the part of my mind that could still let me transport to another world; often, a world that I preferred.
Yet, somewhere along the way, I lost this magic.
While cooking dinner for my boyfriend and I one evening, I decided to reach back to my childhood roots and surround my kitchen with the stylings of the musical, Wicked, which so often exploded out of my teenage room (while my screeching 8th grade voice rang through the rest of the house).
The next thing I knew, I was crying over our pasta. And no, it was not because “Defying Gravity” was playing. Just as Kristin Chenoweth began chirping, “And when someone needs a makeover, I simply have to take over,” in “Popular,” I started to bawl involuntarily.
I was transported back to my pre-teen bedroom with my rainbow-splattered bedspread, purple chandelier and lime green boom box. In this scene, I automatically placed myself at my vanity mirror, practicing my Broadway singing face, with my younger brother playing World of Warcraft on his bedroom computer, my mother making dinner in our warm, open kitchen, and my dad sitting in his office – which shared the wall with my mirror and boom box - trying to focus past his daughter’s “talents”. A lifestyle I forgot shortly after I entered college. How I grew up.
Standing in my own Petite Chou inspired kitchen, suddenly the song, “What is this feeling,” took on a whole new meaning.
It wasn’t “unadulterated loathing” I was feeling, but familiarity and longing. It was a sentiment I had lost almost entirely. I was suddenly questioning myself on where this feeling had been. When did I completely block my roots from memory? The answer was, they were pushed out of sight behind the race to catch fleeting moments of Muncie’s foggy streets, and the University pursuit of self-worth.
I became too focused on the facts in college. My father was physically and mentally ill, which required me to mature earlier than I should have. I tried to push away the truths of my “daddy issues”, which always crept back up. I screwed myself up by looking for comfort in immature, cynical boys, and pushing my ideas of adulthood onto others and myself too quickly. Before I knew it, I lost my ability to escape to my own, happier worlds because my brain was too packed with cynicism, realism and the surface personality I wanted to portray.
For many reasons that all boiled down to me not having the strength to hold onto myself in spite of other forces, I lost some of the magic and the hope that I used keep close. I lost the fantasies in my head, which I loved about myself. Those pieces of me were temporarily shrouded by the memories my “adult” Ball U persona lived out.
Some of my best and worst memories are from college. It’s a limbo between childhood and adulthood where you lose yourself. Sometimes, by the choice of a drunken, hazy night. Other times, you fall miserably, despite your best efforts. You become a watered down (or liquored-up) version of yourself. Between school and work and partying and sex and family and rent, your lungs overwhelming fill up more and more with water.
Then, right when you feel like you’re going to suffocate, some strength saves you from drowning. You discover the positive force that you’ve been searching for the whole time. The surprising part is that the power you find is you.
Dusts of magic still lingered around me in Muncie. I found tangible escapes through the history and the gardens with hidden “fairy” homes that I walked around at my museum visitor services job. I found new friends, who lived walking distance away from my rented house, who shared my same fears. People who saw an even more real and messed-up version of myself than anyone did in high school. As all of my talents and flaws became more apparent, I learned how to embrace them.
I thought I had found exactly who I was meant to be in college, but it was only that one side of myself. One of the greatest things in life that there is always more to find.
“Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
I returned home after college to live with my boyfriend in Carmel, and found parts of myself that I had forgotten in those 4 years that I was away at adult summer camp, living a life that was not really my own.
Bending over our steaming penne, listening to Wicked in our kitchen, my memories of childhood flooded over me and dissolved the present scenery of sautéing pasta toppings. I would never want to be a kid again, but I missed that chunk of my life, my old friends, and the natural fairytale high. It had all gotten lost in the whirlwind of taking care of my dad, and the changes I faced forming an entirely new, temporary life in Muncie, IN. I missed the familiar faces who were part of any of my odd phases throughout the years. They were the magic.
Whether we remained close or not, my best friends know who they are. The girls who ran with me barefoot to the neighborhood pool. The girls I belted Wicked with, who grew into women with me. The girls and guys who chased shots and opportunity with me, always searching for understanding or the next best moment. All of the people whom I shared love, fears, euphoria and discovery.
I cried for all of those moments. My tears evaporated with the boiling water’s steam for every friend that touched my heart and influenced my being. They were salty drips of sincere thanks and deep love only friend soulmates understand.
I’m still me, just all of the versions of me over the years mashed into one. And I love all of those versions of me – the girlfriend, the mom of the group, the hyper one, the shy one, the emotional wreck, the “cool” girl, the partier, the strong one, the “woo” girl, the sidepiece, the princess, the shambly hot mess, the housewife, the hipster, the career woman, the scene kid, the frat girl, the crier, the pervert, the awkward girl, the hot one, the dancer, the theatre nerd, the sister, the daughter, the dreamer - because they make me who I am today.
My fairytale has just begun. The characters have changed a little, but no face has been forgotten. I have found my prince charming, and I live in my castle. Being an adult doesn’t mean shedding this optimistic, magical side of me. Being an adult means I’m the one writing the fairytale now.