I came home from rehearsal with Tinker Bell still in my hair. Wire garlands of tinsel were wrapped around my head. It took forever to put them in. I was too exhausted to take them out.
I crashed down into my bed, too worn out to even shut the bedroom door behind me. My mother walked by.
“You can’t sleep like that, darling,” she told me.
“I don’t care” I said, too tired to care.
And without another word, my mother walked across the room and sat on the bed beside me. Then carefully, gently, she began to untangle the tinsel from my hair. She pulled out shining piece after shining piece, and when they were all gone, she stayed and stroked my back.
I was a teenager, and I remember thinking, ‘I am too old for such tenderness.’ And I remember thinking, ‘I hope I am never too old for such tenderness.’ And I remember thinking, ‘there are some things we never stop needing.’
One day you left your childhood behind. You stopped believing in fairies. And whether you welcomed the change, or fought against it, or simply shrugged your shoulders in resignation and said “okay,” adulthood arrived. You forgot how to get back. You ran out of pixie dust. However it happened, it happened.
But not fully.
Because you never, never stop needing what you needed as a child, what you cried out for in the middle of the night as though – because – your whole life depended on it. You never, never stop craving comfort. You never, never stop wanting to be held. You never, never stop chasing the shadows of your youth across bedroom walls.
There is a softness that never, never leaves you, no matter how hard life becomes. You are not the shell that cracks. You are the delicate baby bird. You crow. You spend your whole life flying toward adventure. The song of your joy is laughter. The sound of your laughter skips about. You create magic, but also, you are magic, and not even the ticking crocodile can take that away. Not even hooks and swords.
My mother sat on the bed beside me as I hovered in the place between awake and dreaming. That was ten years ago now. But day after shining day, I have pulled from that night the memory of tenderness. I have carried it with me through the stars and straight on ‘til morning. It is a happy thought.