She was dancing around in front of the fireplace in her ballet shoes. Prancing and floating around like a little pink bow, afraid of only stopping. And I wanted to get up and dance there next to her, same size, same not-so-fearful attitude, and carry it out with me for all the tomorrows I’ve yet to live.
“Okay, my name is Sophie and I’m 23 years old,” she says to me, as if my age of the old 2-3 is some magic number that will bring her some kind of great accomplishment. “How old will you be?”
I had the greatest opportunity in the entire world: to pick my age. To select a combination of numbers knowing only what the first 23 are like. To choose how old I wanted to be. I made a thinking face, the over-exaggerated one that makes her giggle because I briefly look like a wrinkling raisin. At least, I hope it’s only brief.
“I think I’ll be 20,” I say, breathing out. Because it’s a tough decision. “Yes, 20 today. I’m 20.”
And we were off, our ages selected, pretend names pinned onto our minds, and the game began.
I think most of us can remember these kinds of things from our childhood. The whole setting the pretend game up before actually letting it begin. We’d always choose to be older; seven years lived in real life, and we suddenly want ten more. Twenty, even. We pretended to be 27 and we weren’t faking that we wanted those numbers, for real life.
Now, I dread ten more. That's the peak of responsibility.
I try to be something like 10 years old. Heck, even 12. But she wants me older. I have to be older, but not older than her. It’s the way of pretend. And I think it’s funny to hear her say,
“No, you can’t be a baby! You have to be old.”
I usually laugh and tell her that I’m old every day. Maybe one day soon she’ll let me be the baby.
Until the day we can really pick our age, we can only watch the younger years dance before us, and remind ourselves to never forget that today, this day, we are young. It might take a tiny dancer to make us remember that this day in our life, we’ve got a little young left in us after all.