I made my first magic wand out of a Popsicle stick and one of those sticky gold stars that teachers used to slap on the top of papers when you did a particularly excellent job. Don't know if they still do that, but I do know that I still believe in the power of wands.
Growing up, I did a lot of wishful thinking, mostly focused on the twists and turns of an unpredictable life. Sometimes my wishes worked; sometimes they didn't. I came to learn that wishes required more than a hopeful thought.
In 1986, I moved to Maryland from Oklahoma. I was living under a protective order, escaping from my abusive ex-husband. All the magical thinking in the world wouldn't make him disappear from the face of the earth. But thanks to family and friends, I was able to start a new life. I must admit, just for old time’s sake, I bought myself one of those cylinder wands with glitter inside. I'd wave it around when I was feeling low, and like Dorothy's red shoes in The Wizard of Oz, it gave me a confidence I didn't know I had. After moving here, I have met and married a wonderful man, adopted our daughter, worked for pay for two great organizations, and volunteered because I wanted to for many others.
Living and working in and around DC, I have been privy to the wishes of lots of people. I'm sure you've heard them, too: I wish I could meet a man. I wish I could meet a woman. I wish I could get a new job. I wish I could have a baby. I wish I could find a good sitter. I wish I could get that grant. I wish that dress would fit me. I wish my car wouldn't run out of gas until I hit that station with the cheap prices.
I bet you have a few wishes too. And I'm pretty sure you aren't certain how to make them come true. That brings me back to wands.
About 10 years ago, I was in a freak accident that required a half knee replacement. My terrific doctor warned me that after a decade, it would be time to get the total knee replaced. Ten years sounded like a really long time back then, but here we are. I spent months and months preparing for surgery, getting things in order at work and going to yoga six times a week. But I knew something was missing. Of course, a wish! And not just my wish, but wishes for and from lots of people. So I started buying wands.
I put a picture of myself in warrior pose on Facebook, holding a wand. My cover photo was of Glinda, the Good Witch, telling Dorothy that she "had the power all along," while, of course, waving that shiny stick.
I gave wands to my yoga teachers, my colleagues, and my family and friends. I packed one in my hospital suitcase, alongside my books and dry shampoo. At the appointed hour at Sibley Hospital everyone was supposed to turn towards DC and wave. In the hospital, nurses and physical therapists waved my wand. When I came home, every one of my visitors received a wand, too. They waved them at me, and they waved them for their own wishes. One friend wished for a winning lottery ticket. Another turned a snarky checker at the supermarket into a snake. I am healing well from my surgery, getting ready to go back to work and doing a pretty mean downward dog. Could wands have played a small part?
Why am I telling you this? Because you can get you own wand at the dollar store. Because, sometimes, wishes do come true. Because I trust with every part of my being that we all need something to believe in.
And because, as my grandmother used to say, "It couldn't hurt."
Cheryl Kravitz works as communications director at the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region and lives in Silver Spring. More of her published works (including a couple from Washingtonian) can be found on her website.