I believe in make-believe. I moved to my hometown when I was three, and found a best friend, Helen, that lived a mere two houses away. We were your typical best friends: lazy day afternoons spent by the pool, soda and candy guzzled down in heaps, and laughter shared during the numerous times we played make-believe. The better part of my days were spent out in Helen’s backyard where we became the ultimate jungle warriors. We left Tarzan in the dust with our marvelous imaginary powers, something new every time. We captured legions of ferocious tigers and docile deer with Helen’s incredible archery and my exaggerated senses or ability to talk to animals. We scaled trees until the branches trembled underneath our light-up Sketchers knock-offs from Target and formerly white Keds. These scuffed shoes were also put to use when we would escape the treacherous clutches of the jungle creatures, finding refuge on top of an old woodshed near a huge hedge, and our futile attempts to coax her dog up onto the shed with us often resulted in large bouts of uncontrollable laughter.
When we weren’t at Helen’s house, our time was spent in my room with our imaginations and a set of wooden chairs and a table that had been more things than I can count. One particular favorite was Tiger Lily and Captain Hook, in which Tiger Lily was tied to the rowboat Captain Hook steered to a cave where she was retied to a post as bait for Peter Pan. Helen consistently played Captain Hook and Peter Pan, and I was stuck in juvenile bondage as Tiger Lily. As my mother never forgets to remind me, Tiger Lily and Captain Hook had an unfortunate tendency to gang up on Peter Pan. Occasionally we would layer blankets over the table and tuck underneath our homemade veil, being instantly transported to our dream world, somewhere far, far away. We’d fabricate stories of princesses, castles, caves, and dragons. We’d eagerly confess our deepest secrets, which weren’t actually very deep at age six. These concealed conferences turned into nights by the lake and under the stars, disclosing such intimate secrets as “I stole your Cinderella princess castle key when we were eight.” Times spent playing fantasy games became a fond memory, something to draw us together no matter how old we got. Ten years later and we still fall apart laughing at the mention of “juvenile bondage.” Make-believe brought us together, and memories of make-believe promise to keep us together, which is why I believe in make-believe.