That Morning

I don't know what it means to be an adult. Don't know if I'm there yet, or if I'm doing it right, but remember with stunning clarity my initiation day.

In my house Christmas started at 6AM; no earlier. For the first dozen years of my life, Christmas Eve meant a night of perpetual tossing and turning. Sleep was an impossibility. In a move of sheer desperation and faulty logic, I would go to bed at 9PM to get the requisite sleep out of the way. This never worked. Every year it was the same story. I would restlessly await the festival of presents that awaited me at dawn.

That was, of course, until I turned thirteen. That night in 1996, I slept. I went to bed and I slept. I didn't get up until 9 or 10 the next morning. Just another day. I didn't think much of it at the time, but in my memory it serves as the definitive onset of adulthood.

The thought made me sad. I miss the sense of wonder and magic. It reminded me of the first time I was kissed. In the cafeteria of O'Brien Middle School, after class, she grabbed me by the shirt and laid one on me. No sex has ever made my knees buckle like that kiss. My lips were numb for an hour.

We get used to things. Our bodies need to be habituated. I get it. I just had no idea adulthood would be so sober. No one told me the magic would disappear so quickly.

But that little boy never cried at a Broadway play. He's never loved a woman and been saved by her kindness and understanding, or created art for a discerning audience. He's just a little boy waiting for toys and I'd trade his magic for the majesty of adulthood in a heartbeat.

I want to go back in time. For no other reason than to tell that little boy who fell asleep on Christmas Eve to enjoy himself. He's got an amazing life ahead of him. Things have just started getting good. And though our eyes might not see the world as vividly as they once did, they have discovered subtlety, and something devastatingly beautiful.