Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Special Visitor, Part 2

Peter Pan tugged at my hand, urging me forward, but I couldn't follow him. I was strapped in to my wheelchair seat. "I can't go with you, Peter. I can't walk, you see." Stupid wheelchair, stupid disability, always holding me back, I thought angrily and fought back more tears.

But he laughed and shook his head. "What does walking have to do with any of it? We're going to fly." And with that, he unbuckled my seat belt and lifted me in his arms like I weighed nothing. Gravity didn't seem to have the least effect on him. He carried me as he flew through the open door and up, up, high up above the neighborhood. "You can't walk because you can't bear weight. But up here, that's no longer a problem. The wind will bear it for you!"

He sprinkled some pixie dust and held me by both hands. We danced among the stars, a beautiful effortless waltz, like we had both been doing this our whole lives. With him I felt strong and beautiful and fearless again, like nothing could hurt me and even death would be an awfully big adventure. We didn't go to Neverland. I'm all grown up now, so I can't go there anymore, but Peter said he had something even better in mind.

Hand in hand, we flew over the town, across the Midwest, over mountains, through the South, and up the west coast. We stopped at windows of the houses of my favorite people along the way, to wave and laugh and give hugs and kisses - Peter had a whole pocketful. We had snowball fights in the Rockies, then warmed ourselves over the hot springs in Montana. We had a water war in Lake Michigan and played hopscotch in the Outer Banks. We found a tornado in Kansas to swirl around in until we were dizzy, and balanced on the top of the Empire State Building as we looked down on all the glittering lights of the City.

During all this time, we didn't really talk - we just laughed and played. I'm glad, because I know Peter is clever, but not very wise or compassionate, and he isn't a very good conversationalist, and anyway, I wasn't in the mood for words.

But going on this grand adventure with him was good medicine for my heart. Without saying it, he was inviting me to believe and to hope again... not in the things of my childhood dreams, like Neverland or Grimm's fairy tales, but in something much more... battles that are much nobler to fight than with pirates and Indians, princes that are worth staying awake and alert for, love that goes deeper than songs and dances and kisses.

He showed me that to leave behind childlike magic doesn't mean letting go of it, but discovering a whole new layer of it that is more powerful and more beautiful than I could have dreamed. And it is not on the pages of books or in the Enchanted Forest, but in our world. Yes, this world has a lot of darkness and despair, and it is hard to find such beauty - rare and precious as jewels - but if hope stays alive, it can be found...

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Special Visitor, Part 1

The back door of the Hobbit Hole opened with the sound of a beeping alarm, and a blast of chilly wind blew down the hall and hit the back of my legs. I was alone, and not expecting company, so I waited to hear footsteps or a voice, but only heard the sound of winter.  Peter Pan must be visiting, I thought to myself with a sad smile, and went to the kitchen to close the door. Since moving in to the Hobbit Hole, I have made that my silly excuse for why the door opens itself on blustery days. Anyway it seems most probable, since I do keep his shadow tucked away in one of the hundreds of crannies in the house.

It was twilight, and the world outside looked blue with white highlights of snow and frost on rooftops and cars. I hesitated with my hand on the doorknob, letting the cold north wind kiss my cheeks and forehead. I wish it was Peter... my heart whispered. It whispered, because it has become timid and fearful in some ways this year, as though it still longs for true love and high adventure and beautiful magic and magical beauty, but is not quite so boldly certain it is real anymore.

The tears started to sting my eyes again, so I blinked, shook my head, and closed the door, telling myself it's the wind that made my eyes water and chest ache. Stop it now, I chastise my heart harshly as I have grown used to doing. None of that foolishness. Peter Pan isn't real. It's just the wind - it is all just the wind. I went back down the hall and back to work - there were papers to grade, lessons to write.

Then I heard a bell tinkle faintly, and the echo of a boyish laugh. I looked down the hall, and there he was - a boy in my kitchen, pulling drawers open and slamming them shut, getting distracted by odd appliances and getting amused by my Mexican parrot perched in the corner window. I would say I was shocked, but that's not true. As much as I have tried to disbelieve lately, my heart wouldn't let him go, so when I saw his pointed nose and mischievous grin and freckles and sparkling elvish eyes, I absolutely knew him.

He put down the Burmese soup spoon he'd found, and cocked his head to one side. "Girl," he said, "why are you crying?"

I touched my face and realized it was wet and the tears hadn't stopped. "I can't make my heart behave and act like a grown-up," I answered him roughly, embarrassed to meet him in such an emotional mess. "And anyway I wasn't crying."

He stayed where he was, and looked a little confused. "Why does your heart need to act like a grown-up?"

"Because I am a grown-up!" I said a bit impatiently. "I didn't want to be, it happened without me even trying, but here I am, and I need to let go of childish dreams and face reality and stop believing in all the stories, all the dreams; I can't believe in fai-" the look of horror on his face stopped my words and cut my heart and I burst into sobs.

He awkwardly stood by a minute, and I could tell he disapproved of overly dramatic girls, which made me love and hate him all at once, for I don't like them either and would rather laugh than cry, just like him. Then he lightly stepped in front of me and wiped a tear away, and held out a kiss in his hand. I sniffled and took it, and tried hard to get myself under control.

"Come away, come away with me," he whispered in my ear. I looked up to see if he was teasing. His eyes sparkled brightly, and he laughed in a way that said he was teasing, but he pulled on my hand anyway, taking a step toward the door that had burst open once more...