Magic, growing up, and fantasy novels

I rediscovered my love of fantasy my junior year of college. I say re-discovered because high fantasy (think magic, fae, and monarchy) were my bread and butter growing up. Since I was a kid before Netflix, wasn’t into video games, and didn’t have Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network until middle school, playing pretend was how I entertained myself most of time.

But as a young adult, it was pure escapism. Immersing myself in these fantastical worlds helped my anxiety, was a source of stress-relief, and for the first time in years, I had the experience of being so into a book you stay up all night just to finish it. 2.5 years later, fantasy has become the bulk of what I read. I regularly browse Goodreads and Reddit for my next fix. I’m particular in what I like to read: high fantasy with a powerful, multi-dimensional female protagonist and a strong love story.

What’s interesting is that fantasy (at least the niche that I’m talking about) doesn’t really exist for adults. High fantasy exists squarely in the children and young adult domain. It’s sad because I find myself much more in need of magic as an adult than I did growing up. These novels weren’t just a welcome reprieve from the realities of adult life, but also a necessary way to infuse magic and wonder into the everyday.

I started thinking about what magic looks like as an adult. Now that we know how a lot of things work (or least can Google it), the simple wonder of not knowing has been taken away. We start to run out of firsts – first day of school, first kiss, first love, first job. There’s so much magic in firsts, in new feelings. Will we ever run out of firsts? What happens when we do? We don’t believe in the inexplicable anymore. In fact, we’re so jaded we sometimes don’t even believe in things are real, are explainable, just very rare.

But, those magical moments, tucked in corners of an otherwise dreary existence – are still very much there.

The first warm evening after a long winter you sit on the porch until the sun sets and the lightning bugs come out. A really good goodnight kiss, the kind that makes your knees weak, and as soon as they’re out of sight you touch your lips, as if they carry the last dregs of that moment. Summer Fridays at work, tumbling out into the hot and bright afternoons and having your day still stretching before you. Hosting a dinner party and grabbing extra plates from the kitchen, pausing, with your eyes closed as you listen to the voices and laughter of people you care about drift in. Getting wine drunk, but not so wine drunk you have a hangover the next day. Reconnecting with an old friend. Making a new friend. Waking up in time for the sunrise and feeling like the only person on Earth that’s awake. Going to the beach at night and realizing that even while we sleep the ocean will throw itself on the lip on the shore. Buying plants and nurturing something other than yourself. 

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