I didn’t have far to go that sunny summer day. My yard would do. I was seven-years-old, had a giant suitcase in hand, and a world of adventures to explore.I set the best suitcase in the world down on a blanket and opened its rusty latch. My fingers plunged into a pile of my mother’s old dresses, soft, delicate fabrics, until I came to what I was looking for—spiky high heels! The kind I’ve never worn since. My feet slid into those over-sized beauties and my ankles wobbled like I was on a tightrope. I thrust my arms into a baggy dress, not caring a bit that it looked more like a sack on me. A hat for my head and a doll in a stroller and I was the best-dressed gal on her way to tea with the Queen of England or dinner with a famous actor or shopping with a million bucks in my purse.
Pretend was my pastime. My world. I indulged in it.
I can’t remember my kids having a special suitcase for dress-up clothes. More like a box or a bucket. But they were big fans of playing dress up. They’d outfit themselves as Davy Crockett or whichever hero we’d last read about. They even put a costume on the dog! Thrift-store shopping added resources to their collection. A football helmet. An outlaw’s bandana. Cowboy boots. A wooden gun. Costumes and accessories added layers to their world of pretend.
As a storyteller, the imagination I cultivated as a child has helped me freely explore what-ifs. And as a director of Youth Theater, I’ve found kids with a healthy imagination make great actors who easily step into that other world onstage and truly make us believe.
If I still had children in my house, this is what I'd do for summer fun. I’d grab a suitcase from the closet and fill it full of dress-up clothes, hats, wigs, purses, jewelry, and props. Five or ten bucks at a garage sale or 10 items for $1 day at the thrift store and they’d discover worlds where only their imaginations can take them.
A world of fun and delightful experiences.
Imagination at its best.