Playfullness, Even in Adulthood

CATE O’BRIEN | OPINION COLUMNIST

When I was in middle school, at that turning point in time where creativity becomes unacceptable and conformity reigns over your life like some kind of jewel-encrusted tyrant, the rain was my secret. Whenever it rained, I snuck off to the attic, where the roofing wasn’t quite finished, and I could hear every back-tingling drip of water overhead. I’d lug out the dusty pink plastic box of Polly Pockets, and pretend. The cold, mite-infested hardwood floor set the stage for the performances that unfurled in my mind. In this barely lit haven, a plastic purple closet could be the last surviving portal to an underground kingdom. Two canary yellow twin beds made a boarding school where roommates feuded. Pieces of my Barbie zoo set became the living quarters for a sisterhood of homeless girls.

These attic rain trips were moments far detached from my Ugg boot and looseleaf world; moments where I could finally be myself again. So I suppose it comes as no surprise that now, so many years later, the rain still feels like a friend, a protector of my playfulness.

As it thumps above me, droplets clinging to the window, mesmerizing, free, I remember the feeling of awe and authenticity found in my middle-school days. I didn’t have much time to go to the attic this summer, what with the hectic cycle of life. I find myself wishing I had: if not to play with Polly Pockets, at least to sit on the familiar hardwood floor and reflect. Maybe I would even feel some of the joy that came from the sacred fun I had so often in my youth. A deep feeling of nostalgia washes over me with the patter of the rain. I miss play; I miss freedom; I miss youth. The warmth of the summer is over, and so is my childhood.

I don’t want adulthood to be void of the things that gave me so much joy in my youth. I don’t want to need the rain as an excuse to create, to play, to be childish and light and joyful. As we enter into adulthood, our focus becomes order, logic and control, and, of course, these are all important things. But creativity, exuberance, that incredible lust for life that seems to come so naturally to us as children—all this tends to get lost in our never ending to-do lists. This year, I want to find a balance between logic and emotion; between maturity and pure, childish wonder.  This year, I want to play.

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