When I was a little girl, I got a My Little Pony toy with fairy wings that were green and delicate. “Be very careful with the wings” my mother, and every other adult who saw the figurine, told me. I was annoyed—yes, yes, of course I would be careful, this pony could FLY with her shimmery green wings, and I wanted to live vicariously through her flights of fancy forever.
My pudgy little fingers broke those fairy wings within a week. The stumps that had held the wings stuck out of the pony’s back, mocking me. I had failed at keeping those wings safe, and with them went my dreams of flying through the air atop my magical fairy pony.
I can imagine that if I had had wings as a child, I would have been just as clumsy with my own wings as I was with that toy’s. But now I’m an adult! I take care of my toys now—I can’t remember the last possession I broke. If I were granted wings now, I would have to learn how to care for them, of course…how to sit and lay in bed without bending or twisting or squishing them. I wouldn’t have to worry about other commuters crushing my wings on the BART, because I wouldn’t be a BART passenger anymore.
I would like a pair of fairy wings—they’d have to be quite large, I’d imagine, in order to hoist me into the air. And I figure that I would get pretty tired, flapping them up and down (or maybe side to side? Fairy wings…yeah, side to side, I would be more graceful that way) in order to lift me high above the ground. It would be well worth the workout, though, to get to anywhere from here by magical fairy flight. My days would be filled with times meandering in air from place to place. I’d pack my lunch so I could eat it high on a tree branch tucked away within a grove of trees.
I listened to a This American Life act a few months ago that posed the question of whether people would rather be able to fly or be invisible. I of course chose flight. At the time, I imagined myself flying like Superman, though—the gift of flight suddenly inherent in my non-winged frame. Plenty of questions come along with this kind of imagining—could I carry my partner through the sky with me? (I can lift her, so I’m assuming it’s a yes, but with the caveat that I can only fly with her as far as I could carry her…which means I need to break out my weights and get some more muscle!) What would happen when I was discovered? Being a person who flies would surely land me in some government’s detention zone, being questioned/poked and prodded/studied/cloned. I guess I would just have to keep from getting caught. Luckily this type of thinking can easily be dropped when fantasizing about having wings. I simply stop worrying about the logistical issues and let my mind wander back to an image of myself jumping off of a cliff, somersaulting in mid-air, and then shooting up into the clear blue sky, my fairy wings feverishly propelling me up and up.
Humans have been wanting to fly for quite a long time now—at least a couple hundred years, but if my ancient ancestors were anything like me, I can imagine them sitting in front of their cave by a crackling fire, looking out at the stars and wishing they could fly. One of my favorite movies as a young child was the Rocketeer, a movie about a random person who found a working jetpack and then of course used it to become a hero. What I wouldn’t give to find a working jetpack! But I’d rather wake up tomorrow with fairy wings.