We Can

We Can

circus camp by Rachael Maddox

Somewhere along the line, the yes of my youth got washed aside. I grew too heavy to stand like a lighthouse on my father’s raised arms. I knew too much about pitch and tone to shamelessly let my pipes blow from the top of the stairs. It got harder to play in old simple ways, and there was no one there ushering in an adolescent version of make-believe.

Then a year ago, I was dating a very playful older man, the kind who sees no problem in turning a 15-passenger van into his home, living by the ocean, and surfing everyday. I’d come home from being with him—from skateboarding and slack-lining and partner-acrobating—and my face would look strangely different, yet also familiar—just like my seven-year-old self. “I don’t even recognize you, Rach,” my housemate would say. “I know,” I’d say back, “but I know this girl well. I just can’t believe she’s here.”

I walked over to the bathroom mirror and cried in disbelief of my reappearing self, made a silent agreement that I’d keep her with me, playful boyfriend or not.  Today, it seems all too clear that no one escapes the socialization of age. No one holds on to all of her faith. Everyone grows a bit too big to walk on the table or pretend she’s invisible when she stands perfectly still. But then again, we can. We can do whatever we want. We can sign up for adult circus camp or strip bare and go swimming in the river on a whim. We can remind each other of our ageless wild things—the ones within that are waiting eagerly, waiting to emerge again with a grin. We can. We can, we can, we can.

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