When I was younger, around four or five, my mom had a friend who had a daughter named Kristin. My mom used to send me to spend the day with Kristin. Kristin was a few years older than me and I am positive I annoyed her. There is an age when a girl wants to be seen as more grown-up and doesn't want to be followed around by a five year old. So she used to play games which would occupy me for hours and during which she could go and do what she wanted. Most of the time this game was hide-and-seek.
One particular day I searched for Kristin everywhere. In closets, under beds, even in places where we weren't supposed to be. I couldn't find her. I vaguely remember crying. (I was young and she was missing.) Then, finally, she reappeared. She handed me a quarter and said that the quarter was a gift from The White Rabbit and she showed me that she had one also. Somehow my quarter ended up behind a dresser, though I have no recollection of how this happened.
Regardless, Kristin told me that she had just been to Wonderland and that she had met not only the White Rabbit, but Alice, the Madhatter, and (AND!) Dorothy. That's right. Apparently there was a special Wonderland in which all fantasy characters played together. Kristin told me that she entered this world through the closet. I told her that I looked for her in the closet and saw nothing. "That's because I was in Wonderland," she said. She told me that for some reason I could not enter Wonderland that way but that I was not to worry. There was another way. All I had to do was sit by the bathroom window, hold my special quarter, and call for Alice. Alice, or someone else, would then come and get me and they would walk me over the rainbow. I must have done this for hours. Hours. Eventually Kristin told me that I must not have been able to go because I was using her quarter and not my quarter (the one that had mysteriously fallen behind the dresser). I was defeated and depressed and to this day I can come up for no explanation as to where Kristin had been hiding. I looked in the closet multiple times and I definitely saw her walk out of the closet when she decided to end the game. It's not that I believe she actually went to Wonderland. But where did she find the quarters and why could I not see her?
I knew the references to The Wizard of Oz and to Alice in Wonderland. To meet Dorothy would have been a dream come true. My mother always used to lose me in department stores because I would hide among the racks of clothes, pretending they were haystacks, and sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." But it wasn't until I was reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this weekend that it suddenly occurred to me that Kristin must have read that book and that's how she knew to use the closet as an entry-point to Wonderland. Realizing I would have been too young to have heard of Narnia she stuck with the places and people I would know.
This whole thing has a kind of surreal quality to it. I can offer no explanation for Kristin's disappearance. I have to give credit to the girl for being creative enough to put those things together and have me believe it all. I have to give her credit for coming up with an elaborate scheme to entertain me and keep me from bugging her. Part of me, at age 26, still wants to believe that she did go to Wonderland. That she really did meet all of those characters. Part of me wants to be Old Uncle Digory, excited to hear her adventures. But then the logical part of me returns, reminding me that the entire thing is completely illogical. I am an adult. I work in a law firm. There is no room in my life for magic and fantasy.
But then again....