Peter Pan was a childhood hero of mine. Like him, I had no interest in growing up. I looked at the adults around me and thought, “no way is that ever going to be me.”
I was not going to get up each morning to go to a job I hated. I would never drink a martini with disgusting green olives that looked like lizard eyeballs skewered on toothpicks, watch the news, get caught up in boring British dramas on public television, wear clothes you had to dry clean, or, God forbid, play bridge. Whenever it was brought up, I proudly announced that there was no way I would ever get married. And babies. Echh. They pooped and spit up and were pretty useless all around.
Most kids I knew couldn’t wait to grow up: they played house and talked about who they would marry, the car they would drive, what they’d name their kids. Me, I was determined to hide out in the enchanted forest behind our house for the rest of my life, living in the trees, eating roots and berries and bathing in the brook. I’d weave my own clothes out of grass and weeds. I’d learn to speak the language of birds and squirrels.
Then one day I woke up and looked around to see I was in a house, not an enchanted forest. And I was a grown up. I don’t know when the exact moment of realization was. I don’t think there was one. The whole thing was too gradual – more like running over a series of speed bumps than some daredevil jump off a cliff into adulthood.
No, I don’t play bridge, but that’s because I’m lousy at card games and just don’t have the right sort of mind to learn. And instead of finding a nice man to settle down with, the love of my life is a woman. I have a daughter. I listen to public radio. I love martinis (olives and all). I’m mostly a jeans and t-shirt gal, but I do have a few dry clean only items in my closet. I pay bills. I vote. If that wild girl who wanted to live in the woods forever took a look at my life, she’d think it was pretty boring. But I’d beg her to look a little closer. I’d show her that I have a job I love. A job where I get to stay in my pajamas all day, eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches and making up stories. The wild woods girl would love that. Then I’d tell her that Peter Pan is in the book I’m working on now (for real!). And maybe I’d read her a little of the new novel, just to prove that I haven’t become a total grown up sell-out; to prove that I remember that imaginative kid who wanted to stay in the enchanted forest forever and that she’s there when I write each and every story. And that even though we grow up, we can still remember the way back: Second star to right, straight on till morning…