Peter Pan made me cry.
Okay–let me back up a bit.
I am a senior in college this year, and as an English major (gee, if I had a nickel for every time I used that phrase…) I have chosen to dedicate two quarters of my senior year to writing an honors thesis. This means that I work with an advisor to produce an original written piece of at least 35 pages on a literary topic of my choice. Generally (because I don’t want to give too much away and also because I am not 100 percent sure myself, yet) I am writing about femininity and dream worlds within Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.
So, going along with this plan, I created a calendar for this quarter with rough deadlines of when I want to complete each research task. Tonight, I had to finish reading an annotating Peter Pan. And so I did…and it made me cry.
I have always been fond of Peter Pan as a character. His story enthralled me as a little girl: I spent nights dreaming and wishing of a time when Peter would come to my bedroom and whisk me away to Neverland. And to this day, I think of these memories and smile because I do believe they still live on with me in more ways than one. I am a creative, a dreamer, and Peter will always have a special place in my heart.
Cue the tears. And the spoilers, so if you have any interest in reading the book, please PLEASE do not read this post past this point. Click away. Now.
At the end of the book, Peter returns to Wendy’s window only to find that she has grown up and now has a daughter of her own. Peter weeps and weeps until Wend’t daughter, Jane, returns to Neverland with him. Eventually, Jane’s daughter does the same, and so on. It was not the description of this that made me cry–for this is a very lovely ending to the story, and if you read the book you will understand why. No, it was the thought of growing up that drove me to tears. Because this is something that I have been thinking about for a while now: growing up. Not growing old, but rather becoming an adult, graduating college, making real-world life choices and eventually losing my imagination. As I read about grown-up Wendy, I thought of grown-up Bailee and how I hope to never lose little girl Bailee.
But as I write this I realize something. Maybe not every part of us has to grow up. Sure, we have to make decisions and be responsible, but there is a part of us that can always stay a child, a part of us that can always stay young and imaginative, that can look at our grown-up self and say, wow! I became that, this is me still, and I am you. I think that not every part of us has to grow old. I think that it is the young parts of us that keep us alive.
I may not be Peter Pan, but I do think I can be Wendy: I can live a grown-up life while still holding on to the glimmer of hope that maybe one day Peter will return. And even if all will not be what it once was, there is still a part of it that will remain.
I will forever be grateful for my imagination. And I will never lose it.