See that X-Ray above? Yeah, you'll hear more about that later. And yes, it's mine. Couldn't think of a more apropos photo to start off a story about Boney Island...
Photo by Bekah Wright
Speaking of which...
Ever feel like you truly fit somewhere? That's how my neighborhood makes me feel. What really makes me warm and fuzzy? How the residents embrace Halloween, my favorite holiday.
Several years ago, I made a map of the Halloween decorations on various streets to fax to companies where friends worked. (Yes, it was in the days of faxes versus emails -- days of yore, as some call them.)
While rounding myriad blocks, I happened upon the Nirvana of all Halloween sites -- Boney Island.
In the past, I'd noticed the yard's four-story treehouse. Now, though, it was decked out with pumpkins and skeletons.
As entranced as I was by Boney Island, I didn't know its back-story. There were some rumblings about a producer of The Simpsons creating it. All I knew was... I LOVED IT!
Thoughts about the creator's true identity, some mere mortal, were replaced by those of a fantastical wizard calling forth his skeletal cohorts for their annual gathering.
As for that yearly occurrence, in my mind, there was also digital billboard on the Sherman Oaks lawn of 4602 Morse Avenue, counting down the days to Halloween. The time of year when Boney Island comes alive.
Then, last year, I was hanging out with my friends Miriam and Jay. "Where's Alex?" I asked, scanning the house for their son.
"He's over at Boney Island," Miriam replied.
"He's not visiting, he's working," said Jay.
Say what? Working? This meant Alex had access to the magic. He'd stepped behind the curtain and shaken hands with the wizard.
My next visit to Boney Island, I kept an eye out for Alex. Word was, he was up in that treehouse. Ohhhh... the treehouse! The stuff of dreams.
Still, I didn't seek Alex out to get the low-down. Some of Boney Island's magic might have been dispelled. Sometimes, you don't want to see behind the curtain. Keeping the magic intact felt, well, necessary.
This Halloween, though, I felt a responsibility to Change Your Life Travels. I must educate readers about this wonderous island in walking distance from my house. A place where skeletons levitate...
Climb ropes, inhabit treehouses and make water move at will. (Okay, maybe squirrels can do those things, too, but they don't look as cool.)
Back to the story.
So this year, I asked Alex if he'd give me HIS tour of Boney Island. "No problem," was his response. Was I ready, though?
Alex was keeping watch over Prince Patella when I arrived (those skeleton magicians can be pretty tricky). "The water show's grand finale is about to happen?" Alex urged me in front of the treehouse.
Moments later, lights and water were bursting through the air, pumpkins were singing, skeletons were holding court.
I gazed up at the treehouse in wonder. There it was in all its holiday glory.
Alex appeared at my elbow, beckoning for me to follow him. He introduced me to Carla Myers Polizzi, one of Boney Island's creators. "Wanna go up in the treehouse?" she inquired.
I froze. Go inside? The treehouse? This mythical reality was just steps away. Did I want to step behind the curtain? Strip away the magic living in my imagination?
"I'm recovering from knee surgery..."
This was true. My "new" knee still hasn't found post-op stability. But, the whole point of having the surgery in the first place was to allow for adventures. Namely, ice-trekking in Patagonia. But, ascending into a four-story, magical treehouse?
I'll admit it. The knee hesitation was my heart not wanting to be broken by what it might discover high above the tree. After all, what if it was just dead-beat, boring reality.
"It's not dangerous," Carla reassured.
My body propelled itself forward. It HAD to go up inside the treehouse's inner sanctum.
Photo by Alex Cywan
The knee made itself up one, two, three and four stories to the tippy-top of the treehouse.
So what does this investigative journalist have to report?
Magic is alive and well at Boney Island. I've seen it with my own eyes. And there was a wizard involved. A female one who encouraged me to step into the spell and not be afraid it would disappear.
Thank you, Carla. And Rick. Thank you, too, Alex.
I can say, without hesitation: go to Boney Island. Go before the "witching hour" when it will take another year for it to appear.
There's magic waiting there. I've seen it. I've felt it. I believe.
For more details about Boney Island visit their website at http://www.boneyisland.com/.