I am afraid of aging.
Not of dying or becoming old and frail. But of leaving my childhood behind.
In a few short months, arrangements will be made. Letters will be sent and bank accounts will be emptied. Things will be put into boxes, boxes of things that will never make their way back to the only place they have ever called home. Things will change forever. This chapter will have ended. A new one will have started.
But no matter how many times I’ve been told how lucky I am to see this rising sun, I am still afraid of the day when I will find myself stuck on the outside of the sealed gate of the place I once called home. First I’ll ring the doorbell, then knock, then pound. I’m afraid of who I will become once it sinks in that no one is coming. No one will ever come. No one I know lives here anymore.
What hurts is that I can still taste it. A few short years ago I was blanketed by time in both directions. Floating in the lukewarm water of a teacup I once called the ocean, I looked down from the second star to the right and placed my flag on the shore. The faint glimmer of something far off in the distance was barely even detected. My curiosity would consume me for months before I realized that it was no pixie and that a teacup is just a teacup.
Slowly, over the past three years, more and more strings have been wound around my wrists. Like a loose marionette, I am free to move on my own, so long as I don’t go to far or get tangled. I can feel the tethers shortening with each school quarter and play rehearsal, each book I read and song I hum. My hands have already become swollen. I fear that someday soon I will be lifted off the ground, my little puppet shoes barely touching the earth as I am moved and shifted by somebody else’s hands. Obligation can be an unforgiving puppeteer.
I don’t want to leave, I just don’t want to. I’m not done here. I don’t think I will ever be.
I am so afraid. The idea of never returning causes my belly to ache. It’s not that Neverland is so great. It’s just that it holds such a sense of possibility. The world is there for the taking. But I fear that as I leave Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys, this scope will begin to narrow. In many ways I see it already has.
I am afraid that one day people will stop asking me what I want to be when I grow up.
I am afraid that I will grow up.
Samantha Watson is a student at Monument Mountain Regional High School. She recently presented this piece at the Girls Write On! event in West Stockbridge, under the direction of English teacher Lisken Van Pelt Dus.