As a kid, I never liked Peter Pan. The image of an immature narcissist followed by a brigade of species-confused babies and a fairy diva fighting an anticlimactic brawl with a deranged, pirate wannabe never appealed to me at all. To me, Pete was just some guy who needed to get his head out of the mermaid’s lagoon and grow up. Ironically, as I grew older, Pete also grew on me. There came times when I threatened to burn my Chemistry textbook or cringed at the thought of paying my own bills. And those were the times I started looking outside my window, in desperate search of the second star to the right.
When I was five, I distinctly remember sticking my finger up in the air and announcing that when I grow I was going to be an archaeologist by day, figure skater by night and a superspy somewhere in between. But as the years wore on, the list became shorter and practicality took the reins. My head might have grown but my dreams have certainly shrunk. Adulthood perhaps will come bearing doubts and limits and have me scaled-down to fit an arbitrary frame, but sometimes that’s when earplugs come in handy. Pete says I can fly. All I have to do is believe. Oh, and with a hint of pixie dust of course.
If curiosity killed the cat, Pete definitely has blood on his hands. He never failed to be the first to follow the chicken tracks or peer through that window with a touch-me-not glare. I used to take bubble baths. It was the sacred fifteen minutes of the day that I’d stare at the bubbles and wonder why they floated. It bugged me that I didn’t know but I figured Mommy would. She did, of course, and the answer was “they just do.” I think I pouted, but that was about it. Years later, in the same tiled bathtub, I told my cousin of five the very same thing. I had a tingly feeling Pete was shaking his head solemnly behind my back, but I guess I’ll never know for sure.
I have three tests and two projects due tomorrow and I haven’t slept in twenty hours. I took a half an hour breather to watch a TV show while munching on cereal and I felt like a criminal. For some reason my biology notes kept flashing across the main character’s face. I still remember the good old days when the bell rang for recess and we trampled on our notebooks to race to the courtyard. Pete and I might have our differences but as much as I hate to admit it, he epitomizes concentration. Whether he’s hunting that ticking crocodile or stalking Wendy, he does it whole-heartedly and is fully absorbed—well, until he’s distracted by something else.
I’m never going to fully get along with that irresponsibly pompous child that Pete will always remain. But maybe he was exaggerated to be that nagging, massive, green fly that refuses to get out of my face for a reason. Maybe he’s that needed tiny voice that reminds us of the innocence, passions, and dreams of our childhood. And maybe, just maybe, he is exactly what every grownup needs.