If a Genie granted me three wishes, I’d hand two back and hold onto the last one.
“I mean, I know there’s probably plenty of people out there who could use the other two,” I’d tell him. “And I only really need this one small favor. It’s nothing. Just a chance, really.”
He’ll wait for the disclaimer because that’s what we all do; we wait to hear the catch tacked on to the end of the car commercial or the sweepstakes or the small little favor our neighborhood babysitter did for us when a family emergency cropped up.
Somewhere along the line, we were told that nothing ever stands alone. Not anymore.
Maybe that’s why I’m standing in front of Robin Williams disguised as a blue character from a G-rated cartoon, asking him for the impossible:
“Can you turn me into Never Never Land?”
“Sorry, Charlie. That’s Mary Poppins who does the whole jump into a better life thing. I can’t just toss you like a tennis ball from one Disney movie to another. Come back some other time.”
It’s the hardest lesson I ever had to learn and it keeps cropping up. I hold my breath and count to 100 and cross my fingers that the pain will just vanish.
I figure if I muffle my breakdown with a pillow, maybe the people on the other side of that door won’t hear it. And then, maybe if they can’t hear the sound of someone ripping me away from the notion that I can stay forever in this moment, it won’t be real. It won’t feel real.
I’m still wishing it worked that way and I’m 21 years old. I wished it when I was 7 and I wish it now. Instead, I’m left grasping for this imaginary land where nobody wants to grow up sooner than they have to. Nobody wants to break anybody else’s heart by living in another state always and forever.
Until Home becomes a dot on a map.
Home only exists until Google Maps updates it’s satellite images and some employee realizes you’re Gone.
Maybe I should pull out the Yellow Pages and figure out who I need to pay off to keep Home just where I want it.
That two-door Civic in the driveway with the moon roof and the Billabong bumper sticker?
It’s not there anymore.
I might tell myself you were at work when they snapped the picture. You were just shaking cinnamon sugar on hot, fresh pretzels so somebody else could get her sweet fix for the day. I understand.
But eventually that little Jedi mind trick of mine isn’t going to work. I’ll smack myself in the forehead when you quit serving lemonades and pretzel dogs and that car’s still not on the aerial view.
That’s when it’ll hit me: People make decisions based on something other than you. Someone other than you.
And it’s not because they don’t love you or miss you. Something else just caught their eyes for a while.
Everyone feels like the teddy bear nobody wanted to buy at some point in his or her life, but it never occurs to the teddy bear that the little girl who took him home felt like that once, too.
If we remember that, it might make the growing up part just a little bit easier.
In the meantime, you better call Google headquarters and ask to keep the car parked in the driveway. Just for a little while longer.
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