When I was in second grade, I received the Narnia books for Christmas. My parents’ room had a walk-in closet, and I remember sitting in that closet, my back pressed against the wall, my eyes squeezed shut, trying to will myself into Narnia. It didn’t work.
Yet even if it had, even if snow had crunched under my hands, and bark prickled against my back, I knew I wouldn’t have stayed in Narnia forever. That was how the story worked—you went, you had adventures, you returned. I imagined myself adventuring in Narnia, but not living there. I never thought about living in any of the places I imagined myself into as a child. Wondrous as they were to visit, they didn’t seem the sorts of places that might be home.
If I could have gotten to Bordertown, I would have stayed.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first found Bordertown. Seventh or eighth grade, maybe. No older than my freshman year of high school. I don’t remember my path there. The library, most likely. But I do remember opening the book and knowing I was home.
Bordertown was broken. Magic didn’t quite work there, and neither did technology. And so it became a haven for the broken—for the people who weren’t quite special enough in their normal lives, and for the people who were far too special, and so were punished for it. The damaged. The freaks. So they went to a place where music and art mattered, a place where you could chose your own family. A place where being broken was expected, was normal, and in such a place it was possible to become strong and whole. To heal. To live.
Bordertown, for all that many of its residents were young, was a fantasy for grown ups. It didn’t kick you out when the adventures were over, but let you stay, and make a life. It asked you to make the hard choices, and trusted that you were capable of making the right ones.
It was never just a place to visit. Bordertown is home.