Every time I hear the strains of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” coming from the TV, I look up from what I’m doing. I can’t help it; it’s almost Pavlovian. Inevitably, at the end of the commercial, my eyes are watery and I’m a little choked up. My brain is suddenly flooded by childhood memories of sitting on the hardwood floor in the corner of the small room I share with my older sister. This corner – a little nook I’ve made my own, between the closet and my tiny, white-washed nightstand – is my favorite spot in the world.
Every afternoon, after a long, exhausting day of elementary school education, homework, and bath time, I plop myself down in that corner with my favorite book, and allow myself to be swept away by the words and illustrations of Maurice Sendak. The story of Max, “making mischief” in his silly wolf costume, and his fork. A story where a little boy’s bedroom becomes a world of oceans and forests and “wild things.”
I loved Where the Wild Things Are. I loved that book so much, I read it over and over again. Oh sure, there were times where I preferred the company of Ramona or Harriet the spy. But none of these meant as much to me as WTWTA. It made me happy every single time I cracked it open to read how Max’s imagination took him away to a world of wonder and make-believe.
I can’t quite explain why this story touched me so deeply. It was hardly a thing, really. Only 20 pages long. But something about it, something difficult to name, spoke to me. Perhaps it was Max’s imagination that I identified with. With a sister almost 14 years older, I was practically an only child. I had to find ways to entertain myself, which, in turn, made me quite imaginative. I remember spending countless hours laying in the grass in our yard, seeing bunnies and carousel horses and dragons in the clouds. I made ”chocolate” mud pies to sell to imaginary customers in our backyard. I had entire cityscapes made of Legos and societies of Playskool Little People. I was Evel Knievel, jumping over dirt piles and wooden boards with my pink Huffy (I was much braver then). I taught my Barbie dolls lessons in reading and writing before heading off to my command performance of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” in front of my sister’s full-length mirror (complete with Donny and Marie toy microphone and tambourine). Whenever my mother made me accompany her on boring errands, I would make up entire stories about the people around us in my head (I actually still do that whenever I’m waiting at the doctor’s office or airport, things like that).
I miss those days. I miss being carefree and imaginative. Now, life is all about project deadlines and monthly statements and car insurance, doctor’s appointments, social obligations…
Then, Spike Jonze – the genius behind (the crazy good) “Being John Malkovich” and Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video – announced that he was making the live action film version of Where the Wild Things Are. I was thrilled. I’m guessing Spike was probably as imaginative a child as I was. Now that I’ve seen the trailers, which make me think this film is going to be far more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed, I am beyond ecstatic. I may have to do like the Star Wars geeks and take the day off just to go see the movie! I can pretty much guarantee that I will be pretty misty-eyed throughout, as merely seeing the commercials makes me all emotional and goose-bumpy.
I can not wait to see this movie. Because I know, that for at least a little while, I won’t have to be the 40-year-old with bills to pay and deadlines to meet and obligations to fulfill. No. Instead, for at least a little while, I can once again be the little, blonde girl with the scraped knees and muddy fingernails, finding faeries in the grass and circus animals in the sky.