|Posted by [email protected] on June 12, 2012 at 6:15 AM|
Most of my fellow Phantom fans already know the story of my first experiences with “The Phantom of the Opera”. That I first heard the music in a high school freshman choir class. That I fell in love with the storyline at the same time as I was discovering my own talent for singing. That I felt like it was my story in some bizarre, alternate universe sort of way. That I used to act out scenes from the show in my bedroom behind locked doors complete with a Christine cloak… OK, I hadn’t gone into that much detail perhaps. Suffice to say, Phantom of the Opera is my obsession in life. It goes beyond just something I possess a great interest in to something that has shaped me as a person and continues to mold me to this day.
There is a very big difference between something we love and something that is an obsession. Things we love often change with time, and though they leave a lasting imprint in our lives, they lose a bit of their initial first passion. It’s like that cliché of a couple breaking up and one person telling the other, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.” I’ve had a lot fall into that category.
To me, an obsession is something we don’t grow out of; it grows with us. At 14, I fell in love with a disfigured, genius musician named Erik. A fictional character changed my life literally. At 14, I loved the romanticized ideal of his story, and I let it construct my changing views of life and the world. I was enamored with the basic principle of a man no one else could love and the undoubting assertion that I could be the one to love him (yes, a fictional character!) I was utterly determined to have my hands on any and everything Phantom related. I don’t know why in my twisted mindset owning things that embodied the characters meant so much, but I had to have every music box, ornament, doll, everything bearing a man in a mask or that could somehow be misconstrued to represent Phantom (ie. the Christine cloak, which was from some random Halloween costume!).
And what great lengths I’ve gone to in order to own such things! There used to be a San Francisco Music Box Company store in the mall, and since I was there weekly for Chinese food Fridays with my sister, I insisted on walking by the windows to see if there were any new music boxes. A few times I was lucky enough to have funds on-hand to buy one at sight, but sometimes I had to wait and became an impatient crazy person until I could go back and get it. One night I even made my mother drive the half hour trip back to the mall in the pouring rain because they only had one of the new Christine and Raoul “All I Ask Of You” globes left! Yes, that was insane, but obsessions have this tendency to consume.
My obsession wasn’t just for the musical version. I read every piece of literature ever created having to do with Phantom. At the time, I had to special order half the books because they were no longer in print…back when you had to actually go to a bookstore to do that sort of thing. Or I printed out page after page of fanfiction online. That was how I got started writing my own stories for Phantom. …And the obsession grows.
The first story I wrote was as a final project in my freshman choir class and it included a girl Phantom! It was silly and cheesy, but I did get an A+ on it, so I suppose it worked out. But it wasn’t until college that I decided to try my hand at writing the real, canon characters and developing my first real Phantom story. By that time, I had read dozens of other people’s stories online and was never completely satisfied. So many included a new female character, and to me, who wholeheartedly believes in soul mates and eternal love, that concept never sat right. Imagine any story you know picking up where it ended with one of the main characters replaced by someone new… It just felt wrong. I could never find enough stories that gave Erik a happy ending with Christine, which I felt was the ideal ending to the story. So I decided to write my own. Hence the start of my vast collection!
Obsession is writing almost 70 stories and 2 full novels about a set of established characters, throwing them into different scenarios and playing with them like I own them. When I first started writing, I never thought there were people who would appreciate what I do or share my so-called obsession. But two years ago I got up the nerve to post a story on the fanfiction websites online, and it changed my life. Before that, I lived in a bubble with the things I loved. I didn’t tell anyone (aside from those living with me who knew I had a sick infatuation!) and I kept my writing all to myself. On the day I hit the “POST” button and submitted my first story, I popped that bubble and opened my heart and soul to the world through my writing.
Obsession is something that is carved onto our very bones. It is something that hits you to your core and anchors inside of you, never letting go. I’ve grown and changed since my Phantom obsession started. I went from a daydreaming high school kid who kept fairytales always spinning in her head to a married adult who learned what love means and how to feel it and portray it in language. My life experiences have changed my views of the Phantom story, showing me new nuances and details, helping me put myself into the characters’ heads in ways I couldn’t at 14. I’ve grown, and instead of abandoning the story I love so much, I’ve let it change me and change with me. And the characters have become so real that they are practically friends. When I work on my original novels in between Phantom binges, I always have Erik and Christine to return to; I can fall back into their heads like a safe haven and build new dreams for my first love.
I would hope that everyone reading this could relate with things they have their own obsession for. Yours might not go to the extreme that mine does; I don’t fathom everyone daydreams of disfigured, masked men carrying them off to sing in an underground domain, but whatever it is, if it shapes your life and views of the world, if it has had such an impact that you could never imagine yourself as the same person without it, then it might just be an obsession. And that is not a bad thing!