They’ll repeat all too familiar sayings, like “life is a series of letting-go moments,” and “time flies,” and “kids grow up so fast.” You won’t believe them though. The world will do its best to remind you that one day you will be on your own, cut off from the safety and security of your blue-walled bedroom and bicycle helmet with Lisa Frank stickers. They’ll prepare you to be independent, to have careers and make mortgage payments and drive yourself to the doctor’s office when you get sick. You know about those things. You accept them as inevitable.
What they don’t prepare you for is the way your roles change. How the script they hand you in the beginning isn’t anything like the one near the end. Sleeping Child transitions to Moody Teenager without so much as a brief intermission. And before you know it, you’ll lose the script altogether, and your character will cease to have a name at all. You’ll wander around the stage with bright lights in your eyes that make it hard to sleep and even harder to dream. And at some point, you might even wonder if you’re supposed to be on stage at all.
You’ll find yourself lost amidst moving furniture and faces you hardly recognize changing the scenes, your scenes, or at least you thought they were. Nothing is certain except the heavy curtain that will fall without any assurance that it will rise to a standing ovation—or even a brief moment of applause—the end of the show. You don’t let yourself think about this though. You perform, you always perform.
Everyone warns of heartbreak, but never the absence of what comes before it. No one warns you of rejection. How the only response your “I love you” will receive is apathy. No one tells you that friendship isn’t a sure thing. That months will pass in between awkward conversations that once happened with ease nearly every day. Eventually, you’ll stop counting calendar squares. You’ll stop counting altogether because he stopped doing so long before you even realized they stopped caring for you. No one tells you how you’ll question everything, how you’ll doubt you ever knew them. You’ll wish you had worn a shield, a bullet-proof vest, or at the very least a mask, so you wouldn’t feel so exposed.
No one tells you how you’ll try to cling to those places, the ones you used to fill, the spaces under pillow cases and tucked away in the loops of carefully scribbled cursive, the ones that maybe never existed, but it doesn’t matter because the imaginary is just as significant and feels just as real as anything else. And then you’ll understand how life is a series of letting-go moments and time really does fly, and you’ll wonder why you ever let yourself grow up so fast.