It’s been 150 years of magic with Alice in Wonderland. That’s a gorgeous ride! And to celebrate it I’d like to write a wink to my Grandma. Now, 95 years old, Alice is having some trouble. However, my Grandma Alice once told me that I could arrive wherever I wanted if I read books. Wonderland is everywhere; you only need to open your eyes to the magic around you, and you’ll see all about it. It happens, however, that for being able to see Wonderland, you need to read. You need to read a lot of books!
“You need to be curious, darling.” She would say while offering me a cup of drink. Not tea, however, but hot chocolate. “Knowledge is found in books. Don’t you ever dare to judge their covers. They might look cracked and old like me, but they are treasures, keys to Wonderland. And your Wonderland is there for you.”
Alice, my Grandma, would be intriguing like the Mad Hatter, and at times a pool of surprises. Her life has been a ride. Oh! What a ride! And she has shared glimpses of it with me while taking those hot chocolates when I was a child. She would go to buy tobacco for the husband of her eldest sister in the middle of the cross fire. This was the Spanish Civil War, and my grandma was but a kid who understood nothing about those frightening mosquitoes that would hum near her ears. “They were huge and powerful, one of their bites and you’d do packing to Heaven in no time!” Those mosquitoes were but bullets were going up and down by her side!
She was an orphan. Her parents died when she was a baby, and her sisters took care of her. Having no money to go to school, she would work going up and down with a huge cow. The cow would eat her grass, and she would wait for the kids coming back from school. She would ask them: “Hey you! What did you do today at school?” And some kids would tell her. And so, this is how she taught herself some stuff. And this is how she was so obsessed with reading and books.
Since I remember, she would bring me to the bookstore and let me choose a book or a comic book as my weekly treasure. “But, the one you choose, you must read it completely.” She would say to me. I would spend my time up and down till I found my treasure. Then, I would show it to Alice, who would go to the counter and purchase it. And then, magic happened. Sherlock would chase Moriarty, Superheroes would fly all over, and Alice would have a tea with the Mad Hatter. Lulu would be my friend, and mystery novels would plague my dreams. And so, week after week, I would enter a new Wonderland.
Grandma Alice has been always adamant: “books, knowledge, will let you go wherever you want. You can be whoever you want to be. You can do whatever you want if you just read and use what you find there.” Her theory was pretty simple: books are teachers, you can find great stories, experiences, incredible knowledge that you can find to be yourself, to free yourself from misery, and to find your perfect Wonderland. “There is no Prince Charming. You, my dear, are enough.” She would say later, and this time she would give me a cup of coffee.
Grandma Alice is a little bit of a stereotype breaker. She married really late for society standards and had the first child (my mother) when she was 36. She married a man ten years younger than her and decided to take a degree at school as an adult. Granted that she had to deal with spooky Queens of Hearts from time to time, but they couldn’t stop her at all. So, when I finally met bullies at school, she would tell me to do something by myself. And so did my mother. Both would agree that no Prince Charming would come and that I needed to be smart.
Yes, I was bullied at school. And it was nasty. My crime? Being a geek in a non-geek school, with parents mostly absent due to work. The ones who had to protect me were Grandma Alice and Grandpa Grumpy, but they were already old as to make any real results. According to Grandma Alice and Geeky Mom, the only solution was… books!
What would Sherlock do? How would he defeat Moriarty? What would Loki do to trick these mortals? What should I rely on: mythology? Mystery books? Deploy a mashup plan? This was definitely war! At school, my personal Queen of Hearts would wait in the shadows to move her cards so she could have my head! And so, before the Internet arrived at the country, the cards would bring me a letter from her Majesty the Queen and all the other cards, calling me horrible names.
I won’t lie: first I cried. A lot. So much that I think I had a pool all over me. However, then I laughed. A lot. I had proof that Her Majesty the Queen had devised this hideous plan to make me feel bad. Obviously I showed the evil letter to my Mom and Grandma, and both agreed that I should show it to the Principal. And that’s how I became a warrior Alice myself!
Because the thing was pretty simple: I wanted to fit in and have friends, but I couldn’t without stopping being myself. If I pleased others, I would be miserable. If I stood my ground, I would be alone, but I would be happy. My Grandma would feed me cocoa and coffee as much as books and stories. Enough to understand that fitting in the wrong Wonderland would be my grave.
“Knowledge from books can bring you anywhere!” She would tell me. And so, I decided that I wanted to go to Japan. I decided when I was a kid. Please don’t ask me how young I was, because that part is blurry. I only know that I decided and that Grandma Alice fueled me with more books and more funky stories so I could finally go on an adventure of my own!
Speed-forward this and I am at University. My Grandma Alice is living with the family. She is way older, and keeps on reading and reading all they long. From time to time, she would stare at you, laugh and say “so, what are you doing next?” My Wonderland was Japan, a place far away and enigmatic. And the only way I had to go there were my books. Alice knew it. I knew it. Mom knew it. So, I give it a shot.
I studied like a mad woman during years, and I finally got a Scholarship of the Japanese Government to go to my Wonderland. When I got it, my Grandma would nod, with a happy face and blazing eyes. “Didn’t I tell you? Books open doors!” Alice was the happiest Grandma on earth. I think, even happier than me. Her happy smiling face was like the Cheshire Cat’s one. She has kept that smile for me ever since.
So, Alice in Wonderland is much more than a book to be read while taking a hot cocoa or coffee. It’s one of the books that made my imagination go wild. Alice herself told me that Wonderland, my Wonderland, was around the corner, and whatever hideous Queens might tell me, there’s always a way to make things happen. Only If I believe, I can.
Only if you believe in yourself, you can make it. But if you believe the many Queen of Hearts that you can find on your way, then you’re bound to disaster. You can’t please everyone, even less yourself if you’re trying to fit in a shape you cannot fit in. The choice is yours: be yourself, embrace your weird, and find your Wonderland.
People will always tell you what to do and not to do. Society will tell you in which stereotype you must be or not. People will try to put labels on you as well. These are all nasty bloody Queens of Hearts, trolls that are miserable and want the rest to be miserable as well. You are the only one who can decide what you are if you want to use labels, or what type of path you want to walk.
So, what’s Alice in Wonderland for me? A guidebook to be me, a reminder that we must always dream, and the acknowledgment to be comfy with our degree of weird. I had the pleasure of not only reading Alice in Wonderland, but also of living part of my life with her. She would buy me books, prepare me some cocoa, and explain to me spooky and also wonderful adventures.
There is an Alice hidden in all of us. There’s one in me, but there’s also one in you. Don’t be afraid of taking a look into your deepest dreams, because there you might find the real you, the one that wants a certain Wonderland. Be brave, and take a look! Be brave, and just be yourself! Be brave and accept yourself as you are.
You’ll be happy, you’ll feel gorgeous. You’ll find magic all over! Are you prepared to be your own Alice in Wonderland? Then, follow the White Rabbit!!!
- My first Alice in Wonderland book was a present from my Grandma.
- Ever since I’ve been collecting different editions of Alice in Wonderland books.
- I even designed an Alice in Wonderland Petit Lenormand!
- I am the Mad Hatter’s teapot for a friend. She is my teacup.
- I have several Wonderlands 😉 One of them is Japan.
- My Grandma is really called Alice, she really went to buy tobacco during crossfire and still freaks out when she explains that story.
- My Grandma ressembles Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland’s Alice.
- Don’t mess with my granny… or else…
Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com (C) Alice in Wonderland / Memes (C) by their owners.