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I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll when I was very young – much too young to know at all what was going on. But Through The Looking Glass, Alice’s second adventure, only crossed my path in early adulthood.
I had just graduated from college (2008), the economy had bottomed out and I began that sad and overwhelming quest to find myself in a world much larger than I had previously known. Lured by the bright city lights and the love of a boy, I moved from small town Missouri to Wicker Park Chicago with a handful of friends. I think we were all equally lost, but decided to have enough fun that those confused and uncertain feelings got pushed to the back – at least until work again on Monday morning.
One Sunday night in November, when I was listlessly lying in bed thinking about the commute to my cubicle the next day, I reached for a small book halfway hidden in an unpacked box.
Alice in Wonderland
Leading up to this moment, I had been furiously reading Keroac, Steinbeck, Eggers and Bukowski trying to grasp my place in this new, volatile, post-college life. I wanted raw grit and passion and Truth! (guys, if you think I’m a drama queen now. HA! You should have known me at 22!).
I scoffed for a moment before picking up that small children’s book. I was 20-freak’n-2! I needed to be expanding my mind with deep character-building issues! Definitely no time for a little blonde prancing around with a rabbit! How did this book even get here anyway?
Uhhhhh. With a huuuuge sigh and a quick turn of the lock on my door (the roommates didn’t need to know) I flipped to the first page….and quickly discovered that Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson...aka the Dodo bird from the story (he based the Dodo bird character on himself because he had a bit of a stammer and would sometimes introduce himself as Dodo-Dodgson. Look it up!)) had definitely been on drugs.
“ok ok OK!” My very mature 22 year old self thought. “19th century drug use...this could get interesting!”
With that thought in mind, I dove down the rabbit hole, remembered why the Mad Hatter is one of the best characters ever written and re-discovered my loving adoration for the Queen of Hearts – OFF WITH HER HEAD!
Alice was back with Dinah, safe and sound, before I had a moment to realized I was crawling through the looking glass and we were on to a new series of adventures. Through The Looking Glass ends with a poem...below are the last two stanzas...
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream –
Lingering in the golden gleam –
Life, what is it but a dream?
And you know what Alice taught me that Bukowski couldn’t? To quote Carroll/The Dodo:
And here I wish I could tell you half the things Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase ‘Let’s pretend.’
I was slowly learning that to grow up you don’t always have to be Real and Raw and True and Seeeerious! There’s room to pretend and imagine and play! Looking back, it’s a little heartbreaking to remember that I forgot that for a while in my quest to be an adult. I was so angsty it's embarrassing!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland begins with a poem. In that poem, there is this line that I believe to be all of it – a journey, a truth, something real, something whimsical and above all, how I want to experience the world…
The dream-child moving through a land
Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast –
And half believe it true.
Oh my goodness, can you even believe I just made you wade through memory lane to get to the free pattern? ACK! Deepest apologies. Sometimes I can’t help myself! Also, it’s my blog and I’m just gonna do whatever I want. 😉
Have you done a search for Alice in Wonderland books? There are SO MANY beauuuutiful variations out there! I will probably have to treat myself to another copy....