The Gateway World
It was a place of daydreams, with a distinct aura of enchantment and mystery as if from the well-worn, yellowed pages of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. But no- it was not just that- it was also the hauntingly radiant metropolis of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s New York City, the birthplace of American dreams that had so charmed and so traumatized Nick Carraway. It was truly Oz and Neverland and Wonderland all at once. It was a vehicle, a catalyst, that transported you to wherever in the world you desired to go, whether that be a quaint, stone-paved London street, or the tropical wilderness of an Indian jungle.
Alas, in reality- for reality ruins everything- this mystical land, this otherworldly transporting machine, is a dark blue beaten-up, care-worn armchair with a remarkably large coffee stain on its left arm. It is not the most romantic or fantastical place by any standards. More than likely, the chair had sat lonely and unwanted at someone’s garage sale before the owners finally decided to haul it over to the nearest library for donation. However, it is not the chair itself that makes it my own little corner of the world, it is the feelings that it evokes. I must have been through all the stages of the wide spectrum of teenage emotions while sitting in that chair, blissfully devouring any sort of reading material within my reach.
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This chair- my chair- which sits cozily tucked away in a sunlit corner of the Schimelpfenig Public Library is the breeding ground for my imagination, an area in which I can unwind and de-stress after another long, sleepless school week. This is my safe haven, not unlike Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest or the Count of Monte Cristo’s isolated island home. This is where I can imagine, transform, create, become, recharge, meditate, and dream to my heart’s content. This is where I am inspired.
What it all boils down to is inspiration. I glean this inspiration from the characters whom I yearn to meet, whom I aspire to learn from, whom I desire to become. From the heroes at birth to the unlikely champions, their messages are all the same: We all dream dreams and we all face challenges, but it is the strongest minds and softest hearts that live happily ever after. While leaning back against my chair and closing my eyes after finishing the last chapter of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, I realize that the best fiction stories do not teach us that monsters exist, they teach us that monsters can be vanquished. They tell us the world can be changed, that life will go on.
I can only hope that one day, when I am out facing the cold world of reality , chasing down dreams whose humble beginnings can be traced to this ragged armchair, what I will find is that my chair is occupied by someone else- another unpretentious girl with a headful of dreams, another Francie Nolan. I pray that she will discover what I have discovered, a wardrobe- a doorway of opportunity- to another world.