The words sank in further as my eyes scanned the sentence again, stinging with the first drops of tears, tears I never could seem to will to come before, but that these days fall so freely. I let the words float through my mind before their inevitable land in my heart, the truth in them heavy and sad, the broken little girl in me still crying out for the Pan that would never come: “It is good to be the person you wish your younger self might have found.” Someone that would have drawn his dagger for me, shielding me from my father and his weakness; that would have been there to help me decorate that first Christmas, just my father and I in the house, sequestered by him in his sadness; someone that would have taken my hand to lead me away from it, he not paying attention and my family suddenly gone.
I lived another life a long time ago, with parents just like any normal kid, crawling into bed with them every morning at five or so, the sky draped in blue as the smell of black coffee wafted through the room, willing me back to sleep as cancer came and stole her away three years before she actually died. And when she did, you would have thought my father would have been the one to draw a dagger for me, but he drowned himself in waves of grief, unable to swim, they took him away, too. So I left as soon and in the only ways I was able — lighting off into the streets with my best friend, playing Patch and Kayla with her at the construction site down the block; losing myself in the otherworldly feeling of words, books my sole and constant connection to my mother. And then I ventured out further, hanging under the eaves of other homes, occasionally inviting myself in to flirt with Downey’s Mrs. Darlings, revelling in maternal love, their children becoming my Lost Boys. And then came the day when I simply forgot to care, daring my father to have at thee, ferreting off to Melrose and the theatre with the first of my Wendys, my misfits and fairies, sixteen and wild; then later my Neverlands clubs in West Hollywood and warehouses downtown, drugs becoming my fairy dust.
The realization comes the next day, unexpected, my mind somewhere else just then, the truth in it heavy, but lovely this time — that I’ve always been the Pan and I drew the dagger, myself. The beautiful dichotomy of being the hero of my story in spite of the profound suffering and breakage I felt inside. And I was. On and off for more years than I’d like to admit. And I still am. Broken, that is. Only now I’m broken open. And breaking free. Free of the chains I’ve bounded myself in, free of my father’s failing and his weakness and abandonment. I fell out of my fucking perambulator and he didn’t even notice. I’ve always been the Pan. I didn’t just conjure myself up out of nowhere, a figment of my own imagination or just some name or whatever.
A lover I had once used to call me a warrior goddess. I was always flattered, taken aback, but I could never really see it. I don’t think we ever really see ourselves as others do, but I’m starting to see it now. Which isn’t to say the broken little girl has stopped crying out. She hasn’t. And I don’t know that she’ll ever fully mend, my father remaining the Hook to my Peter until the day he took his last breath. Only now when she cries out, I’m there to comfort her, I’m there to say to her demons, my dagger drawn, “You dark and sinister thing, have at thee.” As I’m sitting here writing this I’ve come to see the person I wish my younger self might have found is the person I truly am, that I didn’t see I was, hidden from sight under the wrecked ship of my past, the treasure always there.