Ask any group of boys what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll always have a handful who claim they want to be a builder. While the odd response may include exactly what it is they wish to construct as they grow older (“Bridges!”, “Skyscrapers!”), most are simply happy to build anything. I don’t know if there are many of us at all, male or female, who didn’t spend half our youth rearranging the living room furniture and throwing a sheet over the top to create a fort. After all, we either had princesses to protect or were princesses requiring protection, and how else were we supposed to keep the dragons at bay?
Not all that long ago I was going through a scrapbook my mother made when I was younger. Full of merit awards and mother’s day signs with tiny little, Mikey hand prints in red paint that have basically doubled in size in the past 23 years, it contains the little treasures that children tend to bring home from school at a young age. Smack bang in the middle of an award for using my library bag 10 weeks out of 11 and an award for being able to write my name in a straight line, I found a picture I had drawn of a family. A mother, father, children and pet bird. Clearly I drew it prior to my fear of birds being heightened by watching that frightening Alfred Hitchcock movie, but the point is, as young as 5 years old I was somewhat taken away by the idea of a loving family, and it wouldn’t be the only time I would draw such pictures or attempt to recreate the perfect family.
I’ve briefly mentioned my love of Lego in another of these trips down memory lane, but don’t think I specified that perhaps the most common theme of my Lego adventures was building many a Lego house as a child. Some were elaborate constructions, others not so, yet the one thing they always contained was people. And not just people; These houses held families. Looking back it seems clear that while young Mikey assumed each of these times he was merely building a house, in actual fact he was building a home. Yes, my little Lego families would stand out the front of their home, a bed of flowers on each side of the front porch, holding little Lego hands as they waved goodbye to their tiny, bright yellow Lego daughter as she boarded the school bus.
If this were the tale of any number of other children, one might correctly assume these artistic creations, like drops of morning dew clinging to a perfectly-formed spider web, were the delicate hopes and dreams of a child from a broken home, destined to slowly pool together before finally dropping away, leaving behind a fragile network of gossamer-like wires that would soon be ravaged by time. But this isn’t the story of a typical child, and this isn’t the story of a broken home. So what was it that possessed those like me — children surrounded by happy siblings and wonderful parents who were not only still married, but still married to each other — to conjure up an elaborate fantasy world? The only suggestion I have is that there are those of us who are simply dreamers.
It takes a certain kind of confidence to be a dreamer. We are the portion of the population who possess what it takes to read a tale of sweeping romance set in a remote town with cobblestone walkways deep in the heart of the Tuscan Valley, and despite having no knowledge of the Italian language or the resources or funds to make it to Tuscany, will toss the book aside, eyes wide with excitement and say “Yep, I’m gonna make that happen”. We are the people who will rack up incredible university debts in the lengthy search for the perfect career, contemplating what it might be like to study radiography as we walk from a macroeconomics lecture down to the drama theatre ready for our contemporary stagecraft class. And we would be the ones left standing in dramatic sillhouette in the middle of the abandoned streets as the last rays of sun descend behind the hills in the distance, the bodies of unlucky townsfolk laying all around us as an army of bloodthirsty zombies appear on the horizon, all the while knowing deep down that a fleet of Army helicopters will fly in and save us at any moment. Essentially we believe, above all else, in believing.
Most people I know aren’t so much caught up with endless possibilities as I (somewhat hopelessly) tend to be. But one look throughout musical history shows that I’m not the only one. Cher believes in life after love, The Darkness believe in a thing called love (just listen to the rhythm of their heart), R. Kelly believes he can fly, and Whitney believed in us and her (though wisely sang it in the first person, I assume after realising “I believe in you and me” sounded far more poetic). That particular motley crew of celebrities isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for the celebration of dreamers and believers, so let’s move swiftly on.
Having spent months deciding on colour schemes and intermittently falling off ladders or dramatically tripping over paint rollers, I am mere weeks away from moving into my very own house. It is natural then that the thought of turning this house into a home over the coming years has started to become a reality. I am excited about the unknown, curious of what will come, and confident that when the hordes of invading zombies arrive, I will have the place looking so much like a beacon of warmth, not to mention radiating with the smell of freshly baked cookies, that their urge to kill will fade and they’ll stop by for a pot of tea. “Pay no attention to the heavily-armed special force black ops team surrounding the perimeter of the house”, I’ll casually say. “They’re just here for the cookies.”