I sold my first copy of Universal Play Therapy to Canada recently. The first thing I did was Google the address, and open up the map to see where the buyer was. It was a town in Ontario, north of Minnesota. I did it impulsively, and I quickly realized why. I looked up Canada in the encyclopedia countless times as a child. I’d look at the pictures of cities, majestic lakes, snow capped mountains, and I’d study the names of the towns. Growing up, I obsessed over ice hockey. I dreamed of living in Canada, in the land of Gretzky. I cut out pictures of Number 99 and taped them to my bedroom wall. I even shared his birthday.
In the winter, I’d leave the garden hose running for days in an attempt to create a backyard rink. The New Jersey ground never froze enough, and much to my disappointment, the water merely saturated the ground. Sorry about the water bills, dad. Oh, well, the family swimming pool would just have to do. Me and my younger brother would sit on the diving board, lace up our skates, and play for hours. We even fell through a few times. The rest of the year, my brother, always my partner in crime, would put on catcher’s equipment and we’d play hockey in THE LIVING ROOM, a ball of tin foil substituted for a puck. We didn’t want to break anything.
Where was the adult supervision? You might be wondering. At the time, my mom was deceased, and my dad was in the hospital for months at a time, or somehow managing the strength to work as a dentist and oral surgeon despite a terminal and chronic illness. I suppose my brother and I could have been doing much worse with our spare time.
I never became a professional hockey player, of course. And I haven’t moved north of the border, yet. But I’m reminded how important it is for kids to dream. My dream of Canada led me to writing that address today at the post office, for my love for hockey kept me out of a lot of trouble. Sort of.