Otherworld

Wardrobe_PaulineBaynes

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Pauline Baynes, 1950.

I am haunted by doors.

I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child and since then I have never entirely given up hope (even as a grown-up person) that  someday I will open a door and find another world on the other side.

Oddly enough, the first time I read that book, I felt the strangest sense of recognition, like I already knew the story.  I'm not saying I could predict the plot-- all those twists and turns were new to me.  I mean that I came upon the book and recognized it as an old friend that I happened to be meeting for the first time.

I did not read the Harry Potter series until after I graduated university.  I knew almost nothing about the books while I was growing up-- other than that they were wildly popular, and involved magic.

So when I opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, with the idea that I would finally see what all the fuss was about, and have a few days of entertaining reading.

Within the first few pages, the same sense of recognition come crashing down on me.  I knew this book.  I had always known this book.  It was my old friend, my friend that I had never met before.

All my life I’ve wanted to be the kid who gets to cross over into the magical kingdom. I devoured those books by C.S. Lewis and William Dunthorn, Ellen Wentworth, Susan Cooper, and Alan Garner. When I could get them from the library, I read them out of order as I found them, and then in order, and then reread them all again, many times over. Because even when I was a child I knew it wasn’t simply escape that lay on the far side of the borders of fairyland...There was a knowledge―an understanding hidden in the marrow of my bones that only I can access―telling me that by crossing over, I’d be coming home. That’s the reason I’ve yearned so desperately to experience the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of that world beyond the World As It Is. It’s because I know that somewhere across the border there’s a place for me. A place of safety and strength and learning, where I can become who I’m supposed to be. I’ve tried forever to be that person here, but whatever I manage to accomplish in the World As It Is only seems to be an echo of what I could be in that other place that lies hidden somewhere beyond the borders.
-Charles de Lint
Perhaps this is the reason why I write.  I must go on building doors for others, until my own door opens.

Illustration by Pauline Baynes from the 1978 HarperCollins edition of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lews.

Quote by Charles de Lint from chocolateinthelibrary.tumblr.com.