Many of us had imaginary friends as young children. If your imaginary friend grew up alongside you, what would his/her/its life be like today?
(Didn’t have one? write about a non-imaginary friend you haven’t seen since childhood.)
I had an imaginary friend named Munchie. Where that name came from I have no clue…it just popped into my head one day while I was perusing the wooden slabs of the playground by myself, lost in deep thought as usual. Maybe because it sounded so amusing and playful to my childlike brain. From around the beginning of elementary school I followed him through his training at what I called the Academy, a futuristic space school, being mentored in classes, and advancing alongside me grade by grade. There were always tasks I would commence in my head that he would have to do at this Academy such as one time near the monkey bars, I envisioned a science class and something involving plates.
Voyager. This was how my adventures with Munchie began. What I called the entry level for him at the Academy. It was the entering of an exciting place for me, one where I could escape the reality of the world – which meant having to converse with others which I was very afraid of and quite uninterested in at the time. It all started around kindergarten near this big jungle gym dome on the playground that looked like a spider’s web. I was walking along the border slats, the idea for my imaginary friend forming tantalizingly in my mind. There was a strange, dark, shadowy figure in my head when I first started. He spoke to Munchie, being the first to call him by his name, and instructed him on what he was about to embark on, telling him of the long, treacherous journey that he would take. He spoke in a real authoritative voice, but acted like a father figure to Munchie or Munch as I called him a couple of times. Munchie listened to him intently, simply nodding his head and going through the various steps to one day become the master that Mr. Dark wanted him to be. There was always a cold chill that ran down my back whenever he would speak. He was so convincing but his voice lurked on the edge of danger.
Out of this World. What came to be called the imaginary universe that my friend Munchie lived in until about fifth grade. I remember rushing down the big tube slide and imagining that was the grand entrance or portal to the world. Then, when my Munchie reached seventh grade (me skipping ahead in my mind because of the feeling of our time becoming less), I started “In of this World”, which didn’t last long; it was a sign of our friendship degrading as our time on the playground started to become more and more apparent and people thought I was weird. But I liked being different. It was a comforting feeling to have this little universe all to myself. When someone would try to interrupt it I got very defensive and quite anxious at having any discussion. I just wanted them to leave so I could continue with my inner fantasy. There was an embarrassing time once in the second grade I believe where I was talking to my imaginary friend on the wooden platform under the slide and Adam Noakes, a kid of short stature who I always envisioned becoming a mystery writer, came by and sat down by me, wanting to talk. Since I was very shy about talking to anyone I immediately got up and ran over to the swings. I saw him staring back at me looking confused, like I didn’t want to talk to him because I had something against him. No, it wasn’t that. I was busy being lost in my imaginary world with my imaginary friend and someone catching me muttering things to myself shocked me quite a bit. I didn’t want anyone to know about my weird escapades off to a fantasy land. Everything was a lot better and more exciting when I didn’t have to face reality or have people interfere.
At around the end of fifth grade, our time together was starting to vanish quickly. I could no longer hide my wandering around and talking to myself any longer – some kids were starting to make fun of me. As I was growing up, the glue keeping me and Munchie’s friendship together was failing. As the need for real friendship erupted in myself, I desperately wanted to ‘exit’ the world I had been living in for so long. It was time to end it all. There was a big countdown in my head until I would leave for good. Right around the final month of school, I had a ceremony, saying farewell to Munchie and many of the other people in his universe. We had a memory walk, remembering all of the times we spent together, various images and sounds flashing by in my mind, making me feel quite nostalgic. Near the pole of the funnel ball game on the playground, I launched myself out of the world in quite dramatic fashion, imagining I was standing on a futuristic pad and waiting for two space doors to open; dramatic tribute music played; I stepped through those doors and there was a burst of bright light, a whooshing sound taking me away, until I landed on cold grey asphalt. The thoughts of the journey did not last long for I decided to forget the entire world for good, moving on with my life. January 2, 2003 is always the day I remember leaving my imaginary friend Munchie and his mysterious universe behind.
Where is my friend Munchie now? Is he the same age as I or has he progressed more rapidly? What became of him after I exited his fantastical world? Did he latch onto another wandering outcast? I know he’s still in my brain, I mean I was the one who created him, maybe I can contact him right now…have a little reunion…like old times…
“Hey, Munch…how have you been?”
The air starts to feel cold and lonely. I’m trying to peek into a place that reminds me of Chernobyl: forgotten and full of sadness.
In a dark room, absent of any sound, a shaggy haired man suddenly looks up from a desk and stares at me with big, coal black eyes. He can’t say anything because he’s never had a voice, I never gave him one. All he does is mutter weird sounds.
“Eerp?”, he says through the dreadlocks covering his mysterious face.
“Um, hey, I’ve missed you old bud, it’s been so long. Just wanted to talk to you one more time.”
“Eerp, eerp,” Munchie mutters once more.
But there is no need to go on any longer for I can’t possibly find anyway to bring back the true essence, the excitement of this friend that has been stuffed away for so long now. Maybe one day I’ll decide to try to find my way back to that world…but it really only existed on the playground so it would be quite difficult to recreate. But I do have one tool that could do the trick – writing.