The Alligator Did It: A Story of Rebounds and Imaginary Friends

When I was a child, if ever I got angry, I would take all the clothes from my dresser and throw them all around my room. Upon being discovered by my parents in the middle of a room full of strewn-clothing chaos, I would proclaim triumphantly, “The Alligator did it.”

Yes, it was always the Alligator.

And in a way I believed this: I believed that the Alligator, my imaginary but oh-so-real ally, had taken it upon himself to rip apart any semblance of normality and re-mark the world, rightly, with frenzy. Frenzy is only right in a world that makes no sense, in a world that, in the eyes of a child, inspires blue-eyed indignation. In a bedroom that smelled of the lilac trees that whispered just outside the window, chaos seemed only appropriate when things were oh-so-wrong.

Now that I am a grown-up, I think once again about the Alligator. Can I blame him again for my strewn-clothing messes? The ones that I have made in recent years, in recent days? The ones that are a bit more complicated. I would like to blame him, I think. Yes, surely, he was the one who incited that chaos. It was a green-scaled, fire-eyed chaos. Not mine. No, I wasn’t thinking, so I wasn’t there. I am a smart woman with a poetic but very analytical mind. I have a high IQ and have, in the midst of deep thoughts, maybe almost become a little wise. And so surely it wasn’t me who made those mistakes. Ha.

Oh, those mistakes. The ones that seemed to fit so beautifully into the moment, the kind that seem just right at the time. I’ve made them once or twice. Maybe three or four times. Maybe seven, give or take. Those mistakes that then left me recipient when I opened my eyes. My metaphorical eyes. Not the blue little-girl eyes.

But maybe those eyes as well.

Recipient. It is a favourite word of mine in recent years. It means regretful. But I like the way it sounds: it sounds like the wind as it moves through teeth.

I had my heart broken recently after the end of a short-lived but, at moments, treasured romance. The loss of love is always hard. The loss of love breaks the world apart. It is heavy on the chest. It moves like shadows do through a shipwreck. It is unjust. It turns you into that child again, the one to whom the world makes no sense and is only wrong.

After the little heartbreak (it was, this time, only a little one), I did what I swear time and again I will not do. I had a little rebound (oh no; haven’t I learned so many times over? And aren’t I too old and wise for this ? It solves nothing, and only leaves a big cluster of mess around my feet). Oops, I did it again. Again, a little strewn-clothing mistake. With someone who is no good for me. And then, when I saw it for what it was, I felt regret. I felt recipient. Like that child who realizes that now she has to pick up her own mess and reorganize the chaos into the compartments where it belongs.

But, like that child, I have learned a little bit too from the experience. I have learned that she, the child-me, craves, and deserves, kindness. This craving, this need, is the reason she throws her things everywhere. She wants to be held in the midst of the injustice but doesn’t quite know how to ask for this.

And I better understand the nature of messes. I know a little better how to tell the well-made, liberating messes from the ones that, in the end, are pure, irredeemable disasters.

And now, through these reflections, I’ve gotten reacquainted with my Alligator. He is in fact real; I know this now. And yes. Yes, the Alligator did it. The Alligator definitely did it. My Alligator, fierce and wounded heart. He needs a little bit of love of his own to get him through. He needs to be held gently in the lilac-scented light that comes into my old bedroom from the window by the garden. And so I will hold him, because he is mine.