As a boy I was intrigued with imaginary places, mythical things and fantastic objects. I loved children’s books that took you to some far more interesting place than Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan: Wonderland, Narnia, Middle Earth, The Lands Beyond, Oz – any place would do.
I got the notion to create a large, universal map with all these lands. It took years to create as I wanted to include every legendary place, person, beast, or object in myth, legend, or literature. Over the years, the map grew in detail. I called this place ‘The Timeless Lands of Erehwon’. Erehwon is Nowhere spelled backwards – later in life I was to discover some old hack made up the word long before I thought of it.
My revelation at six years old I was queer caused me to imagine my difference was somehow a sign I was not really part of this world; I was from another place. At some point, I imagined someday going to Erewhon. I started to think I was actually the lost Emperor of Erehwon. I had been brought to out of the Land in infancy and I was to return when I reached 18yo. It just had to be so. What else would explain my difference in this world and strong attachment to the creation of this map?
In my youth I imagined the more detailed I could make Erehwon, the more likely it would become true. If you saw “Pan’s Labyrinth” you know what I mean.
As Emperor I wouldn’t pass laws or be important in ruling people per se; but I would be recognized by everybody – and respected for what I represented. I was to be the symbolic ruler; Erewhon incarnate.Again later I read ‘The Never Ending Story’ and I realized my idea was taken in the persona of The Child-like Empress.
Apparently I haven’t had an original idea since 1965.
In junior high school, a friend of mine did a very detailed illustration of Erewhon. I still have it. The map is framed and fraying a bit. I recently found some scraps of paper with notes and rough sketches for improvements to Erewhon. These notes must be at least 30 years old.
Obviously nobody (or should that be Ydobon?) came to fetch me on my last night of being 17yo. By then the Erewhon project had faded in my interest. I knew at some level I wasn’t going, but I wondered by not sticking with the project I somehow had failed. I had closed a portal; they could not get to me. Now I am a middle aged man and there is no entry. Like Wendy, grown up in Peter Pan, I am not able to go. I only get glimpses of it in my never ending reading of fantasy. It will have to do.
As I look at my framed map and sketches and wonder if it is not too late to find the rabbit hole or the cyclone or wardrobe or tollbooth that could still take me there……