In fact, I never seem to reach an age where I'm an actual different person than I have been at other ages. My perspectives change, my opinions (on rare occasions) change, and my interests shift around, but no matter what I do, I stubbornly remain me--the person who digs weird little rituals, loves fairy tales, plays lets-pretend, and does her assignments at the last possible minute--like pulling the all-nighter to finish that essay. I've read about people looking at pictures of their childhood selves and thinking, "Was that really me?" But it's not something I really get on any level. Most pictures I see of myself at any age past infancy, I can remember what I was thinking and feeling, and even more than that, what I was imagining.
- Before school, I used to play witch and stir different sorts of leaves and pine needles into the mud puddle at the end of the driveway, trying to make potions to make me beautiful or rich or whatever was on my mind that day.
- I have very vague memories of still living on Woodward Avenue (I left when I turned six), and going across the street to play with Veronica. One day, we were playing with cloth and pretending to sew, and I decided to make myself special magic shoes. I was horribly disappointed when I couldn't wear them home.
- My pre-school friends Rebecca and Michelle (identical twins) would come over, and I would always be the wicked witch, who'd captured Michelle and made her do housework, while Rebecca came in to rescue her sister. (I still think of Rebecca as sort of an action-hero girl's name.)
- When I was seven, I used to pretend to be a superhero because I'd inhaled some weird exhaust fumes--I watched a lot of superhero cartoons--and my power involved sending out different colors of smoke that would do different things.
- When family friends came to visit from Indiana, the daughter who was my age gave me a little beaded necklace with three images of eagles on it, and I became the great Three-Eagle, mystical Indian princess with super strength and telepathy.
- After watching Vader in ESB, my superhero power was controlling the wind. ;)
- At roller skating parties during elementary school, where my clumsy self used to fall and worry about having my fingers run over, I used to pretend that I had a pair of magical skates with diamond wheels that prevented me from falling, and there was a round ruby shield that kept people from bumping into me. (I actually did fall less when I was pretending this. I guess it made me more confident or something.)
On the less lets-pretend-ish stuff, I remember imagining or worrying about:
- Vampires (which I called Draculas until I was at least eight)--I was sure we had one in the house who used to stand in the bedroom door just waiting for me to get up at night.
- Damage-less bombs. These would kill everyone but leave everything standing and habitable for the bad guys to use. I didn't really have any concept of who "bad guys" were, as it was never allowed in my house to make such an assumption about any group of people. I guess I thought maybe the Empire was going to invade, though I don't remember that one for sure. It might have been the Russians at the time, though my mother would certainly have given me a talking to about believing such awful things and I don't remember having such a talk.
- Until I was about six, I believed we were still at war with England. Not that they were bad guys (see above), but that they must really hate us for leaving. People tried to disabuse me of this notion, but I couldn't grasp the thought that at some point, it had become all right that we'd left.
- I thought that just about anything I did was going to be offensive. This probably comes from having opened an umbrella inside once (just playing with it) and having a superstitious adult start going on about bringing bad luck, but it extended to worrying about really minor matters. The one I remember most is being awfully certain that I was supposed to hide the little plastic coffee can that decorated my Sunshine Family doll house when Mormon friends came, since I knew Mormons didn't drink coffee. I think I may still have this slight tendency to, erm, overthink things.
All of this led directly first to acting, then to writing, btw. When I write, I still do it from the same place that came up with my magic roller skates. I'm the same person I remember being as a child, and I honestly don't think I'm remembering it wrong.
It occurs to me that of all my weird and quirky lets-pretend beliefs, I never had any of those arcane childhood beliefs about sex. My mother sat me down and explained everything--with diagrams and pictures in textbooks--as soon as I asked, and I never wondered before then. This does not seem to have made me particularly free-wheeling. Ah, the many ways to grow up a dyed-in-the-wool prude...