You’ve never been the one to let go first.
You blame this on the game “Red Rover”, the game that capitalized your free time during recess in the third game.
Everyone would get in two lines, on opposite ends of the mossy green field, and stare at each other as if they were 300 pound linebackers getting ready to crush their opponents. Side by side you locked your fingers tight and pressed your palms together, with the girls next to you, as if you were trying to squish a penny between them. You no longer felt like an individual. You were part of the person to your right. You were part of the person to your left. So much so that your racing hearts and panting breaths synched up and began to sound like the roaring engine of a Ford 150.
And then, when it was time, someone would make the call, that was more like a shout — the kind you let out when you are not angry or upset but just want to make something clear, “YES MOM, I HEARD YOU” — one of those.
“Red rover, red rover, send Samantha over”
And just like that Samantha got suited up. She crisscrossed the bunny ears of her shoelaces; fist pumped her teammates, lunged forward and took off. You saw her coming at you. You realized you didn’t have much time left. You twisted your sweaty fingers together till they are all the way locked at the core.
Your heart began to pound, on beat, with her approaching footsteps and that is when you closed your eyes. Notice this about life: When someone is running toward you at an ungodly speed, you will, without a doubt close your eyes.
But you won’t let go.
Maybe, your fingers will start to pull apart; maybe, your palms will press outward from the girl’s next to you. Maybe, you will start to wonder if supporting the full body weight of this 7-year-old girl is really something you want to do for much longer.
But, you won’t let go.
The girl next to you starts to call it quits. She starts to yank her hand away from yours.
And then, some kind of law of physics that you just can’t understand in the third grade takes place from all the pulling and the pushing and the yanking, that you, the girl next to you, and poor little victim of the game red rover, Samantha, falls backwards onto the buds of wet grass.
You still, for some odd reason, don’t let go.
It is right then that you learn that holding on for too long is never a good idea. That there will always be a time, that you will be made aware of thanks to the butterflies that will swarm your stomach or the feeling of a large stack of bricks being placed on your heart, when you will know it is time to go on — get out of there — drop your hands and simply just walk away.
You’ll find that feeling to become all too familiar as the years go by. You stay past your welcome at a job that you just don’t like, you grow out of a dress that you spent some of the best nights of your teenage years in, you wrap your arms around people who squirm to get away.
One day you will get the hang of it.
But maybe you won’t. Learn not to be so hard on yourself — you are human and this is just one of those feelings that remind you what it is like to be alive.
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