Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Rise of the Fort

Forts are awesome. There are many types of forts - pillow forts, box forts, forts made of the neighbor kid's building block set, bedsheet forts - and all of them are works of beauty. If you disagree, I'm gonna come right out and say it: you, sir, are wrong.

Building a fort is one of the purest joys in life, and not just for kids. As a grown-up, building a fort is an act that taps into childhood nostalgia and glee, forcing you to embrace the part of yourself that will always be six years old and think chocolate milk is ambrosia from the gods. That part of you knows that when you're in a fort, you're protected from anything, be it obnoxious little brothers, bedtime restrictions, or America's clusterfucked political system.

It's also an act of defiance. Building a fort in your living room says, "I can't afford a mortgage and my landlord won't let me paint the walls, but I am going to make this my kingdom." It also says "I do not accept society's ageist bias against fort building," which is an important statement in itself.

I myself am a lifelong fort builder. As a kid, I was a fort-building master, covering my babysitter's entire basement in forts. (My brother helped, but I was always Queen of the Fort.) Up til high school, I would occasionally turn my room into a fort, making myself a sleeping and reading nook under a canopy of Ninja Turtles bedsheets.

It was college that killed it. College killed everything fun. I tried making a fort out of my loftable dorm furniture, but it just wasn't the same.

Then, there came the 2008 presidential elections. I remember election day fondly, in part because of the feeling of history being made and the grins on the faces of all the people I passed on the way to my polling location - but mostly, I remember the fort. The election day fort was magnificent. My roommates and I had decided to host an election night party, which morphed into an election night regression party, where everyone built a fort to hide in, wearing pajamas, hugging stuffed animals while we watched the election coverage.

And drinking. There was a lot of drinking. I think that was the night I discovered my level 6 of drunkenness (which is marked by the thought, "Hey, the cat's bed looks like an awesome pillow!"). But that's beside the point.

The point is, that night, as Barack Obama was voted in as president of the United States, a new era began. The Age of the Fort.

The forts began again. They were small but classic, bedsheet tents attached to the overhead fan in my attic room. Last June, when I was preparing to move, the attic forts culminated in one glorious hybrid fort made of moving boxes and bedsheets. It was storming that night, and my friends and I went outside in our pajamas to puddle jump and wild rumpus in the rain, then we retired to the fort to hang out, sprawled across a heap of pillows like lazy royalty. That was one of the best nights of my life.

And then there was the Post-Move Fort, which was small and ineffective, mostly me figuring out the layout of my new apartment.

And the "Abandon All Hope" fort downstairs, which Kiah and I built in which to watch an episode of Supernatural we knew would kill off characters we loved. (The reasoning being: forts protect you from anything, even your own emotions. And yes, it worked.)

This weekend marked the greatest fort-building endeavor since the great Pre-Move Fort of 2009: the Easter Weekend Fort.

Pictured above: the fangirl nest.

This fort served multiple purposes. Kiah and I were re-watching an episode of Supernatural that had torn out our hearts and stomped on them, and after that, we had planned an Easter marathon of the show: all the episodes in which one Winchester or another rises from the dead. There was an obvious need for protection from emotions. The fort was also necessary in that we had a lot of leftover snacks from the most recent Drunk Star Trek Night and needed an environment in which eating nothing but snack food was not just acceptable but encouraged. This led to a wonderful weekend of vegging and TV, insulated in our fort.

And this fort...well, it made me proud. In spite of the ottoman/table/cupboard that blocked easy entry, it was one of the most functional arrangements I've had a hand in making in years. More than that, it showcased Kiah's and my ability to fort-build as a team - the whole thing went up in under half an hour, with zero arguing over placements. I think this marks a turning point in our fort-building relationship. Once we're roommates again at the end of our current leases, wherever we live will have an abundance of well-constructed forts. We may never take them down. I have a whole trunk full of cartoon themed bedsheets just waiting to become something magical.

The Age of the Fort is upon us, and my life is better for it. Embrace the fort, friends. You'll thank me later.

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