In second grade, my teacher pulled down a map and began my first geography
lesson. She pointed out China, Russia, Europe, all the greatest hits. I
raised my hand. "Where was The Shire?" I asked. My teacher assumed I was
mocking her in some way - reasonable, I was a bit of an obnoxious kid. But
it was a sincere question.
I believed Lord of the Rings was real. Yep. My father told me those books
were the ancient history of Earth, and until that moment in second grade, I
had no cause to doubt it. It was a shocking realization. I was living in a
deep fantasy world, always looking around in the fields and wilderness near
my house for clues of Middle Earth. I used to sit under the willow tree
hoping its roots would move like Ol' Man Willow's. When I went camping with
my father, he would let me hike alone among the giant Northern California
trees. There had to be Elves there right? There were not.
I was sent to the principal. My mother was called. My illusion was rather
forcefully dispelled. My father thought it was funny. The enchanted years
of my young childhood were over. I know it's for the best. As a Science
enthusiast and Skeptic, I understand the truth is more important than
pleasant narratives. But I was just a lad, so let's give me a break.
This was before I found Star Trek, or Sagan's Cosmos - or sadly, religion.
Those eventually filled my lust for discovering a deeper, more
interconnected world. But this was before that. This was the in the well of
my imagination. Then my teenage neighbor kid wanted to buy a skateboard and
sold me his NES - his loss. The fantasy life was about to return.