Most of 2020 has been muted. I’ve felt like I’ve been only half conscious for most of the past year and a half. The pandemic has made me sluggish and foggy. I am used to functioning quickly, powering through tasks and overflowing with creative energy. I find myself often just wanting to sit or walk in quiet stillness outside, breathing in the natural air, trying to reconnect to what is natural in me. Trying to find again what makes me awake and alive.
On the path behind my parents’ house that I walk almost every day there is a hollowed out stump by the creek. Above it, hanging from a tree branch, is a little wooden sign with the words “fairy house” written on them. In the last several months there have been small additions to this house, a table from a dollhouse, a banner strung across the opening of the stump, a teeny tiny ceramic crate of what looks like freshly picked ceramic vegetables. Most recently, a little Christmas tree. About a month ago a young girl was on the path when my partner and I walked by and pointed excitedly to the stump and said “did you see?? I made a fairy house!” We smiled as wide as our smiles would go and celebrated with her for a moment, telling her how much we loved it and how amazing it was. I loved this little girl in my parents’ neighborhood because she reminded me of when I would make little fairy houses in the desert out of oddly shaped plants and found objects. I would run back to them after time away wide eyed and delighted when one thing would be out of place, convinced fairies had come to the house I had built for them.
As a child, I loved and revered the idea of magic. The idea of whispers and sparkles just outside my periferory that were mischievous but well intentioned and awe inspiring was so wonderful to me. I believed in Santa until I was almost in middle school, a fact my siblings and close friends playfully never let me forget. I think that’s what I love most about theatre. It is the way we bring magic to the regular world. Artists make something happen right in front of you that you get swept up in and believe, even though everything you know points to it being false.
This fairy house is my favorite thing about the world. The idea of putting love and effort into making a home for magical creatures that you know you may never see or confirm the existence of is the most pure and true and perfect thing I can think of. Performing kindness to the air in a way that makes strangers smile wide and adults believe in magic again, even if just for a moment.
I wanted to do something for this little girl, to thank her for the warmth she brought to my muted cold state that I have found so deep and dark and hard to crawl out of. So I collected a few shiny tidbits of things, a gem from a broken necklace, a metallic leaf from some wrapping ribbon, a glittery branch leftover from an art project and I put them in a yellow bag with a drawstring and I ripped a piece of parchment-looking paper from an old card in my memory box and I wrote this on it in tiny whimsical handwriting -
Thank you for making us such a beautiful home! Please take these small treasures as a token of our appreciation. Have a happy winter holiday!
Then I placed it gently and secretly at the base of the Christmas tree in the hollowed out stump, and walked away down the path with a little more life in my eyes and bounce in my gait.
My hope is that this little girl will find this gift and, ideally, believe in faeries for her entire life, but chances are she will assume another person saw her fairy home and decided to play along. But I hope knowing that will give her some faith that people can be good, and when they are especially good, they create a type of magic that can be passed on and shared abundantly and often. I can’t be sure, because it is so hard to tell these days, but I think this is part of my purpose. To preserve and perpetuate the magic in our world. To make perfect small things in life ones that everyone can see and be uplifted by, to clear the way to magic for other people and remove the shadows of their days. To cast spells and bring into life and dance joy into being.
I will spend 2021 parsing out for myself what is valuable and what is not, what needs tending and what does not. I will spend it finding more tangible ways to combat racism, inequality, patriarchy, capitalism, and cruelty, both in the world and within myself. I will surround myself with things I like. I will make decisions in service of a more joyful and meaningful life, and will hold the quality of my life to no one’s standards but my own. I will be kind to others and to myself, and unapologetically intolerant to those who refuse to behave in the same way. I will keep myself healthy and ferociously protect my family. I will follow COVID regulations for as long as I need to to make sure we are all safely arrived on the other side. I will be gentle with myself as I try to find a new direction in this ridiculous life of mine. And last but not least, I will cultivate the small, but ever so precious and necessary, moments of magic that make us alive.