Today is our birthday.
I am looking at a photo of you and tapping away on a machine you couldn’t have imagine.
Frozen in time, you are forever four years old, in a lacy yellow top and matching shorts with your hair in a sloppy pony tail. Your bangs are jagged because a few weeks ago you thought Captain Hook was in your hair and you had to cut him out.
What the hell were we thinking? Mom was so mad because we had an appointment at Olan Mills to get a photo taken that weekend. HA!
In the photo, you are perched on the edge of a rocking as if you want to leap off. You weren’t interested in modeling for memories. There was chocolate cake, ice cream, balloons, shiny tinsel and presents outside! There was a pink and silver tiara waiting for me to claim my title as Birthday Princess! Why are we wasting time here?!?!
You were ferocious.
A tiny thing, all arms and legs, skinny and tan, we wanted nothing to do with Barbies. We wanted to run wild in the fields, play in the creek, climb trees, look for crawdads, pull up rocks and see what crawled beneath.
The world was so big. Magic was real and everywhere. Angels lived inside clouds. Birds and animals carried messages. A towel fastened around your neck with a safety pin gave you super powers. A ring of clover tied end to end became a crown. Sticks were Excalibur. I remember how the wind rushing through my hair made my feet swifter and I felt like The Flash, running faster than anyone else in the world.
Our imagination was untamed. We had yet to be told of what things Could Not Be or Should Not Be. We only knew What If and Why. The day we learned to read, it was the greatest gift because then the Universe unfolded in our hands. Books were magic. Stories were in our blood from the very beginning. When someone read a story, it came alive, in sound and color, right behind our eyes and inside our brain.
Remember when we learned that not everyone could do that? How sad that made us?
And later, much later, when the life began to dim, books became our refuge, our solace, and our truest friends.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about. Forgive me. My mind rambles and my memories cascade.
I found this picture of you, of me…Jesus, it’s hard to think of me so young…..and I wanted to connect again with you….with me. That young wild thing that you are, that I was….Jesus….I still am.
See, I am that strange sort of adult that never really grew up. Not completely. I mean, I’m fully capable of taking care of myself, paying bills, holding down a job, doing laundry and all sorts of Adulting but…I never lost that part of me that sees magic in rainbows, finds delight in clouds and whose mind is constantly distracting by shiny, new ideas and things.
Here I am, thinking about you and wondering if I measured up to what you dreamed we’d become.
All I can say is that I tried my best. I did. I may not have accomplished everything I wanted or promised but I can say that I am still trying.
And I can promise that I will always hold that piece of you, that fiery, wonderful, magical girl, inside of me.
And I promise to never give up. Never grow old. Never lose the fire.
Happy Birthday, Chestnut Haired Girl.
Until we meet again.