Spoilers! Once Upon a Time Season 7, and minor spoiler for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1
In season seven, or what I call the epilogue season, of Once Upon a Time we are introduced to many new characters including Tilly, who is the cursed persona of Alice from Wonderland (“And other places,” as she likes to remind those who run into her). In this new curse, our heroes are living in Hyperon Heights, a neighborhood of Seattle.
Tilly is an orphan, a street urchin, and an informer for the police. “She’s the best eyes and ears of Hyperon Heights,” as Detective Weavers would say. She sees everything and is never seen, but never being seen is not always a good thing.
In the episode The Girl in the Tower, Tilly needs an alibi to clear her of false charges. Because of seeing a traumatic event and the chaos of her mind, the events of the last few days are foggy. Detective Rogers asks if she has any friends that might have seen her. But Tilly’s only “friend” is a troll statue built under a highway, not much good for giving alibis. As they search for an answer, Tilly finds a clue, a Hyperon Grocery sticker stuck to the bottom of her boot. She believes that’s where she was and rushes to the store to ask the workers if they saw her yesterday.
Tilly: Mrs. Lewis! I’m glad to find you here. Um, I’m in a bit of a pickle and I think you’ve got a piece of the puzzle. See, I was here yesterday. And I need you to say I was. See?
Mrs. Lewis: Who are you?
Tilly: Hello Mr. Charles. Mr. Charles?
Mr. Charles: Ah, sorry, kid. Didn’t see you there.
Tilly: Kid? It’s me – Tilly. Tilly? The girl with the marmalade sandwiches? I get them from you every day.
Mr. Charles: Look, lots of people come in here. I’m sorry – but I don’t know you.
She walks out of the shop dejected, realizing that no one sees her, she’s invisible. She may know everyone in the town, but no one knows her.
This is a feeling I can relate too. I remember a time in collage, a perfect example of the everyday feeling of being invisible. Becky, a girl who sat behind me for an entire semester, asked to borrow my tiny stapler. I told her the cost would be telling me my name. I stared at her as she squirmed in her seat. I knew she didn’t know it. It took her, and her group of friends, minutes of hushed guessing, before someone outside their little click yelled it like getting an answer right on Jeopardy.
As I turned back around to face forward, and heard the sound of my stapler clipping all their finial papers together, I realized how invisible I was to the world. I knew her name, I knew her major, I knew her friends’ names, but they didn’t know me. They didn’t want to know me.
If you’ve ever seen that Buffy episode (Out of Mind, Out of Sight) where the girl becomes invisible due to how she feels, that’s what it felt like. That I didn’t matter, because I wasn’t really there, all I was, was the girl with the stapler. The girl who would help them, even if they didn’t know my name.
Trip to Seattle
It’s now years later and I recently took a trip to Seattle to clear my head and while there I shined who I was to the world. I don’t like keeping my head down any more, I don’t like being invisible, so I’m not.
I talk to people. If I get into a silent Lyft car, while I’m here to change that. Let’s learn about each other, let’s laugh, let’s be friends. All my adventures in Seattle would never have happened without talking and learning from other people. Including one of the most amazing experiences ever.
Someone told me about the Fremont Troll, and I looked it up online as she got my cupcakes ready and realized that it was the exact (or near-exact) troll used in Once. I couldn’t believe it! I was squealing so loud I think the next people in line were worried for my sanity, but I didn’t care. Tilly is my favorite character in season seven (I will forever ship #madarcher) and I was so excited.
The next morning, I raced there and stood in front of the statue. The creators may have moved their version’s position and cleaned it up a bit, but there it was, in real life, Tilly’s troll. The one person who sees her. At the end of her journey to find an alibi, Tilly sees a blinking red light in her troll’s eye, and there she is on the security camera. Her friend sees her, even if no one else does.
You Are Seen
I’ve changed a lot since I was that girl invisible in classrooms and pep rallies, in cafeterias and group meetings; and I never want others to feel that way. I don’t want them to think their invisible as they go through life. Which is one of the reasons I like talking to strangers, even if it’s just in a Lyft ride, or while we’re in line for tacos or whatever. Why not connect to the people around us? Why not tell them, ‘you are seen’?
I met over forty amazing people, each of them with their own unique stories to tell. Sometimes we talked for a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, but I remember them all. A hairstylist with great taste in food, an artist working to fulfill her dream, a wife separated by distance from her family, a translator who served in Afghanistan, a photographer who loves mango tea, an engaged couple excited for the next adventure, and so, so many more.
I have no idea if any of you will ever read this, but just in case you need a reminder, like Tilly did, that you are in fact seen and matter to this world, I hope you can remember that wacky, super extroverted girl from Colorado, who most likely made you smile, and know that you are not alone.
Thank you, Seattle, for being an incredible city, filled with inspiring people. Stay awesome.