I don’t remember when they first popped up in my life, but I suspect I was about four years old. My memories before kindergarten are few. The family living room was the first room you entered as you came in the front door. We lived in a two family house on the first floor, with my grandparents on the second floor. They actually owned the home which was located on a busy avenue in a small New Jersey city.
My imaginary friends lived in the wall behind the front door. I would knock on the wall and press my face up against it trying to look through the painted sheet rock to catch a glimpse of their world. I guess I created Cooney, Chetty and Susan because I wanted someone to play with. I was so ahead of my time creating a virtual play date.
Usually when asked if they wanted to play, Susan was most times the only one who could, because Chetty and Susan were always going to Florida and leaving Susan home. I felt bad for her. We would dance for hours in the living room, doing fabulous stunts off of the hassock looking at ourselves in the wall of mirrors my parents had installed at the time. That was the style in the 70’s. We had an entire wall of mirror tiles with a crackle film overlay. So hip! Oh, don’t dare get your fingerprints on them though as you would hear the wrath of my mother. It was one of the many things that ticked her off.
I remember running over to the half wall in between the dining room and the kitchen as my father and mother were seated finishing dinner, telling them tales of my friends and just sitting there chewing and nodding their heads as if this was normal and just fine with them. I was friggin’ crazy and they let me go with it. If I’m being truthful, I always had the feeling they thought I was a bit off.
Can’t recall when my friends disappeared and we stopped playing together, but I have yet to doubt their existence. I wonder why I named them these crazy names. I mean Susan is mainstream, but Cooney and Chetty? Their names are as familiar as the friends I had in elementary school. I have no recollection of their appearance. That will forever remain a mystery.
Experts would say children develop imaginary friends to help deal with change or times of transition. Maybe subconsciously I knew that my life would change soon, sort of a sixth sense, because up until this point I think we were happy as a family. Again my memories at this age and younger are sparse. All I do know is my imaginary friends were comforting to me, like a blankie or stuffed animal.