One day you’re 10, and you’re waking up to the wet wilderness, putting on your dirt streaked flip flops to pick wild raspberries for morning pancakes. The foam soles bend around the gravel road, and you can feel every single pebble like the princess and the pea except you’re the king, the king of this very second. You let the silence hang, tight around your jaw, because even you know not to break the quiet of raspberry pancake mornings.
And then one day you’re 25, and you don’t remember the last time you sunk your feet into grass, soil; and I mean nature’s grass and soil, not some city slicked park with cobblestone paths and pre-planted flowers and stiff lawn grass. You don’t remember the last time you truly let a silence cling to itself, because now they’re “uncomfortable” and adults are committed to tampering them with pseudo-niceties. You don’t remember the last time you had a morning red with raspberries and not red from tension, from yesterday’s unresolved woes.
You don’t remember the last time you felt like a king, a god.
Who feeds the adult raspberries?
I gave up all my childhood relics too early.
I refused my dolls, my stuffed animals, my notebooks full of novel ideas,
to swallow maturity instead.
I was sooner than ready ushered into adulthood,
to wear the mark of maturity ripe on my flat chest.
Every “you’re so mature” proclaimed from an adult singed it deeper into my flesh.
The scar soothed my loss.
Yet, I was not welcome in adult spaces.
I was hushed and spoken over, my emotions belittled,
contrived in the twilight zone of being a child in years, but not in feeling.
Now, I am an adult in years only.
In feeling, perhaps a quiet, old matriarch whose hands are calloused with past lives.
But I have danced for many years in the arms of apparent maturity,
surely I should be a natural?
I am anything but.
The dance is awkward and clumsy, and my teacher is absent.
I traded the precious performance of childhood for adult approval.
And now? I don’t know how to dance.
I always knew, somewhere deep and small within me, that the delight and joy of Christmas had faded as I got older. I tried every year to feel that same childlike joy, but it has never been the same. I have been trying to concoct magic for myself every year when the tricks have long been revealed. And for a second it was the most sobering realization I had all year; my head spun, and I got deeply sad, yearning for a time I would never get back. But when I immersed myself in those Christmas memories, all the small ones- I remember one year it was so warm and grassy that I rode my brand new bike outside, or our tradition of waiting until midnight Christmas Eve to open one gift and then opening the rest after we slept, or just feeling the immense elation, like a pressure in my heart, of watching someone tear open a gift you spent time ruminating over, watching their face for the moment of surprise-I realize I was lucky to have these to look back on in the first place. And until the nostalgia wears off and I begin my own Christmas traditions, it will be enough to tide me over. A festive liminal space if you will.
I’m a child of the hot July sun.
I couldn’t wait to peel a wet bathing suit off my taut skin after a swim. I wanted that first feeling of realizing the sun was still out at 9pm, knowing the season had just begun and anything was possible. I wanted blackened feet from being barefoot all day and bike chain grease on my calves. I wanted sticky popsicle hands that I would only rinse quickly under a hose. I wanted to collapse in bed after a full day outside and finally realize how exhausted I was. I wanted to put potato chips in my sandwiches. I wanted to sit by a crackling bonfire and feel the intensity of the heat. I always felt like I could sit right in the center of the fire and not be burned but feel alleviated.
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For a long time, I prided myself on being a productive person. I used my spare time efficiently, writing to-do lists and finishing every task on them. I managed my time well and left no room for error. Unfortunately, I’m human, and so errors would come up, and when they would, I would internally combust. Being thrown off schedule and not being productive was worse than death to me. I would struggle immensely if my mind and body were telling me to rest. I would fight it, still try to work through brain fog and period cramps to achieve at least one thing on my to-do list, so at the very least I was a little bit productive. I thought this was admirable, something to be proud of. I’m slowly learning that it was not.
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