I realized this morning, as I cleaned the bathroom and imagined myself as Cinderella, scrubbing the walls and humming to imaginary bird friends and daydreaming of an as-yet-unmet handsome prince, that I'll never give it up.
I used to think that at some point, I'd snap out of it. That either gradually or all of a sudden, the stars and sparkles and delights of imagination and daydreaming and resolute belief in practical magic would slough off under the pressure of daily life, the wear of getting older.
And I have a horrible confession: in my somewhat cowardly fear of aging, in my discombobulated comparisons of Life-I-Thought-I'd-Have to Life-I've-Lived-And-Am-Living, in the past 1/2 month, I've tried very hard to ditch the old ideas. I tried, quite half-determinedly, to drop the impractical belief in a soul-mate, the impractical belief of every-day-magic, the impractical belief in All-Will-Be-Well, the impractical belief of It-Will-Work-Out-How-It's-Meant-To-Be. I tried to became a nihilist, in charge of my own life and quite unconcerned with magic and true love and bothersome things like that. Right up to my February 14th dinner with two marvelous friends (B&C, who tell their longtime boyfriends "February 14th belongs to Chesley. Deal with it." every year, and then sweep me off to dinner and a non-romantic movie to celebrate life and friendship and cinematography. Those precious girls...), I tried to give it up.
But magic doesn't slough off. Hope doesn't fall away like old scales to be shed. Faith may crack but it will not break. These things come from somewhere inside the heart. They're bred into the bone until they become part of the soul, existing in tandem with life.
After my Valentine's Day Birthday, I realized this. I cannot be practical when it comes to life. And to pull me out of those trenches of self-examination, friends appeared with unsolicited truisms about the Me I've always wanted to be, and sometimes forget I am.
One told me I had swagger. A funny complement? Maybe. "But it's not the type of swagger of someone with something to prove. You can put it on and take it off as you please. You have swagger when you want to, but you're still authentic. It's part of why you're so fun; It's part of why your friends love you." (I maintain that I get this quality from my mother- who will deny it if you ask her. She will swear up down and sideways that she has no "swagger." But when she needs to charge a party or direct an atmosphere, there's nobody like her. Sometimes she gets a sparkle in her eye, and there's no stopping her. I get that from her.)
Another told me I was witty. (Babes born on February 14th, so say the astrological books, are gifted with quick wit and clever quips. But I maintain that I get this from my father.)
Another told me a difficult truth: "You act like you've got all your shit together. This makes you very intimidating to men. But on the plus-side, you don't compromise yourself to live a life with a man you don't love, and you don't need to." That's a bittersweet realization.
And then M&J sent a birthday card- after treating me to a stunning night on the town. The card, which came when both girls were out of town, told me something these girls tell me constantly: "you are fabulous." But it's not a meaningless refrain. They're silly words, unless they come from people who truly know you, who speak of your life and your soul and your truth.
And B&C, my practical, no-nonsense, no-mushy-love-at-first-sight dears, sat across from me at a dinner table, their offerings of brilliant music and epic literature wrapped at my side, and said: "Listen, Turner. If you need to have a life crisis breakdown tonight, we are here for you. Go for it. But we know you don't believe in all this crap you're saying about growing up and giving up on Love and Life. So say it if you want to. But we don't believe you, and you're not going to convince us."
Sometimes- oftentimes- real gifts don't come wrapped in boxes or tied in bows. They come in words or looks or feelings from friends who tell you why you're wonderful, who tell you what you need to hear but make sure it's still true, who know you well enough to know when you're lying to yourself, and listen patiently while you do it, and then firmly point out that you're full of nonsense.
The sea of life has washed a 29th wave upon me. And for a while, I was afraid of what would be washed away while it ebbed. But it's slowly receding, and I still see sparkles, and magic, and gems and seashells, and hopes clinging fast, and faith resolute. And what is making it's way out to sea? Quiet insidious fears and uncertainties that have no place in a life like mine.
This post is dedicated to the dreamers, who still believe in Jiminy Cricket's song. And to true friends, who encourage you to live nobody's life but your own.