Elliot and Emily sometimes ask about my childhood. Elliot enjoys my young fantasy of becoming a tiny person, and my secret wish to be a member of The Littles. Imagining myself to be the size of a fairy, minus the insect-like wings, was my great mental escape. It was my dream to enter into my doll house, or take a vacation inside the stick shacks I made at the base of the cottonwood tree, where my knees and the soles of my bare feet would collect those sticky seed cases.
During our real world adventures visiting mountains or taking a rest at the edge of great bodies of water, it’s always that feeling of smallness that thrills my heart. I think I would make a very good astronaut for that reason. Vastness, endlessness, and then, a little something beautiful. The blue earth with swirling white clouds. The thought that there are people down there, tiny little people! And I am one of them! I’m so small down there that I can’t even see me.
I am counter cultural in my thinking because of this. When I discovered Etsy, I was thrilled because it meant that small was good, even preferable. You didn’t have to try to be McDonald’s or Target. You could just be tiny and that was cool.
When I write, it only works well when I talk to myself. That’s how tiny I have to think. It may seem selfish, but I really can’t write to entertain anyone except myself or the stories just don’t work. And because of this, critique group experiences are absolute hell for me. It’s like walking into a room where everyone else is clothed and I am naked.
It takes me a while to forget that I was naked in public. I try to do a lot of covering afterwards. There’s a lot of obsessive behavior that happens. A lot of building up of grand ideas, a lot of obsessive worrying about what comes next.
But for some reason, being here doesn’t feel that way. I’m not so acutely aware that I’m even here in public. The internet is a mountain, and I am standing at the base. Even if I were at the summit, it would afford the vision that I’m even smaller at the top than I was at the bottom.
I love the feeling of smallness. The smallness afforded by travelling on an endless road that leads to a rock the size of a country. You can do anything in all that space! You can walk and walk and run, or climb all day, and bliss out with that pleasant feeling seeping through all of your muscles, the tired that carries you into the mist of untroubled sleep.
I am seeking that feeling of smallness when I write and when I travel. Getting outside is the best feeling. I recently learned that my grandmother was claustrophobic. I never knew this about her. But now we are connected in our shared dislike of small spaces. Maybe she felt, as I do, that small spaces make one feel like Alice after eating the cake. That feeling of being so tall you touch the ceiling? Terrifying. Sickening. I wonder if people in power feel this way. It must be traumatic to fill up the world with your voice.
Maybe this is why God whispers.
We once took a tour of the Arch of St. Louis and climbed into a little pod that carried us all the way to the top and down the other side through the inside. Being in that tiny pod was not a good feeling. Scratch that former statement about being a good astronaut. While the idea of feeling small next to Earth would be fantasic, I could not take life inside a can.