“Peter,” she said, faltering, “are you expecting me to fly away with you?”
“Of course; that is why I have come.” He added a little sternly, “Have you forgotten that this is spring cleaning time?”
[Wendy] knew it was useless to say that he had let many spring cleaning times pass.
“I can’t come,” she said apologetically, “I have forgotten how to fly.”
“I’ll soon teach you again.”
“O Peter, don’t waste the fairy dust on me.”
She had risen; and now at last a fear assailed him. “What is it?” he cried, shrinking.
“I will turn up the light,” she said, “and then you can see for yourself.”
“What is it?” he cried again.
She had to tell him.
“I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago.”
“You promised not to!”
“I couldn’t help it.”
Today I spent some time with a friend from high school. He and I share about 35 years of not being friends – the years between high school and a few years ago, when, through the magic of Facebook, one of our first reunions happened. We’ve caught up with each other. Many of us now peruse our Facebook pages – like opening a “this is your life” book, we click on photos and watch the years unfold.
Whoosh! I see a blond haired lad with an impish grin and I see my friend, but then I realize – silly – that’s not him – it’s his son.
I suppose I’ve been feeling a bit like Wendy did lately. Facebook has had a way of condensing my life.
A few weeks ago, my friend, Mike, was chatting (on Facebook, of course) about helping his sister start a food truck business, resurrecting his old family recipes from his family’s iconic community restaurant. I knew that my artist clients were holding an exhibit and wanted to have some food options for their patrons, so I suggested that he set up outside the building. The building, an old Armory, is right next to “our” high school. So on this crisp fall day, with a chill in the air, we found ourselves sitting together at a little picnic table area he had set up, right in the shadow of our high school.
Whoosh! He’s a football player. With a golden floppy head of hair, a swagger and a drawling, Texan style voice. He’s a little bit of a trouble maker, but then he’d flash his white-toothed, full faced smile. His eyes would smile, too, with a sparkly twinkle, just like an animated commercial.
He has a floppy head of grey hair, but the sparkle and smile are fully intact. His impishness, too. His age shows most notably in his manners. He is extremely polite and helpful to older people, very respectful, and even moreso with children. His second career is a prison guard. Somehow that work has made him, what, gentle? A gentle, impish, funny, handsome man.
We talk about the little catch in our step – me with my hip – he with his back. We sit at the picnic table and talk about meatballs and sauce and memories of the city we grew up in. We sit in the shadow of our high school, where, some 40 plus years ago we graduated and parted company for most of those years. Many of us who have re-met on Facebook know we will always be friends, now. We will share the joys of children’s marriages and grandchildren being born. We will share the sorrows of deaths that are already beginning to happen.
What made this so surreal? Sitting close and looking squarely at each other? The shadow of our youth towering over us now? Being in the city we grew up in and all the things that used to be somewhere? Talking about the boarded up Armory with pigeons siting in the broken windows? Reminiscing about family recipes? I started to think about my mother’s sauce and how Portuguese linguicia was her secret ingredient and how could I have forgotten until this very moment of recollection.
Whoosh! That whirling tornado funnel of thoughts again – and a snippet of my life – graduating, college, an accident, jobs, marriage, divorce, babies, deaths, career changes and challenges, children growing up and adult jobs, retirement planning, reconstructive surgery talk…and then - whoosh – I’m back, sitting at the picnic table.
A week ago both my children were hired for their “dream jobs” – within two days of each other. And they even have binders of benefit plans for me to look at. So I tell them – grab all that matchy pension stuff – buy that long term care policy. Trust me. I know they don’t know about a lot of things that I know too much about.
Whoosh! I see them heading to age 30 and I have the panic about their lives that I have about my own. You have to plan. You have to do it right. If you do it better than me your life will be better than mine is now. Listen. Never mind. Just trust me. Trust me.
There’s a nip in the air. The leaves are falling. Soon winter will come.
One day there will be gentlemen for my daughters’ hands. And every spring it will be cleaning time again. And may there be grandchildren to hear about high school. And football players with golden hair and twinkling eyes. And fairy dust and Neverland. And thus it will go on.
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” Peter Pan