As a little girl, I played with dolls. I held them close. I promised to keep them safe. I sang songs I made up in my head. I made up a world that I would one day wake up to when I officially “grew up.” That world was filled with a loving family, traditions passed down from generation to generation and honor. I would right the wrongs, I would defend the underdog, I would be a heroine just like in my books. I blocked out the bad in the world and waited for that wonderful day when my world was different.
It’s funny, little girls love honor. Their heroes and heroines live by this incredible rule of conduct and take up swords to defend this moral guideline that is ingrained in them to their core. Little girls love the idea that no matter how bad life is at the moment, one day there will be a prince (or princess) that will one day find them and rescue them. He’ll love her without limits, defend her, and they will grow old and peaceful together. Dare anyone challenge her virtue, her character, or speak ill of their clan, her true love would teach this malevolent villain a lesson not soon forgotten. Best friends stay together, they don’t leave you behind, or forget their pinky swears. And they don’t die.
I think one of the hardest things about actually realizing that I have “grown up” is the foul recognition that everything you thought about being a “grown-up” isn’t real.
Sometimes, if you are lucky you will be able to make enough barters with God, Yourself, or your Body that you will be able to kind of move towards those dreams you had as a child, but you really don’t want to think about what exactly you had to give up in order to get there.
They start out simple. Please God let me pass this test so I can get a good grade, graduate high school, get away from these people, start a new life and become something more than this. If you help me out here, I swear I will never….. and that’s when you start making barters with God. Most of the time you actually thought you would make good on the barter, but after a while, both you and God both knew better. That’s when you started telling yourself that maybe it wasn’t up to God, or maybe there isn’t even this magical being up in the heavens watching over you.. maybe it’s up to you.
When you make barters with yourself, you take stock of your life. You really dig down in there to figure out exactly who you are and what you are willing to rip off of yourself in order to survive. “Hey, it’s only a few more hours… I can stay up and still make it to work on time.” But again, it isn’t long until you realized that you are really getting down to the core of things and wondering how many more trades you have left in life before you become one of those lifeless drones that you see walking down the street. But hell.. you have a lot more living to do before you let it get that far, right?
One day you open your eyes, and you are staring up at the sky, flat on your back, and you are suddenly aware that this is it. There’s no happy ending, life isn’t fair, and heck you aren’t even a damned princess! There you are trying to figure out what you have left to trade in order to get back to that ridiculous story and you realize.. damned it…even God is tired of your crap. You already gave up your moral code and screwed up your personality, and now you are sweating and cranky because those stupid trades you made with your body has left you old, fat, broken down, and too effing tired to do anything about it.
That’s when you give up. You stop hoping for a magic key that unlocks the right door to Wonderland and go back home to clean up your mess. You leave behind in the grass the wish that you will wake up and your best friend isn’t dead and promise to just stop thinking so much about how you feel because it doesn’t matter anyway.
Instead of making barters with God to help you, now you just tell him you are sorry for screwing up, and you will try to do better, yet you still wonder if he is even listening anymore.
Your bargains with Yourself aren’t for you anymore, now they are for one more family dinner, one more good-night kiss, or one more drama free day.. in trade you won’t complain about how the Prince doesn’t give a crap about how you feel because there are a limited number of special things left and you are just going to waste them if you don’t shut up.
You only get a small number of baby kisses, toddler compliments, childhood moments, tween acknowledgments, teenage thank you’s, and then those special moments become fewer and farther.
If you knew you only had 300 kisses, 1200 hugs, or 2000 hours left… wouldn’t you trade anything for the chance for 1 more? Maybe that trade is the last tiny thread of the dream you once cradled along with that baby doll, but it’s worth it.