When I was a child, escape was crucial to survival. I would close the door to my bedroom and watch my entire reality fall away, the new one existing solely inside those four walls. I took the stage, flexed up onto my toes, danced someone else’s life. In hot Midwest summers I sank to the bottom of every pool, lungs full and taut, body curled in on itself, carving out a safe womb.
Nana would dress me for these journeys; flaring skirts, sheer scarves to tie up my hair, long wisps of gauzy fabric that would flow behind me. The carpet in my bedroom was a deep, turquoise blue and I imagined it was the ocean, my ocean. I asked Nana for a mermaid tail and her skilled fingers delivered a dark orange one with a zipper up the side. I layered her costume jewelry necklaces over my bare chest, leaned back on both arms, shook out my hair and whipped my tail. The crash of my imaginary waves would drown the anger on the other side of the door, and I would let the tide pull me away to absolutely anywhere.