Forever Young

by Grace Ko in , , ,

I meet with a ten-year-old girl each week. I have the honor of tutoring her and she and I go on adventures together, through the world of Children's Literature, discussing the characters, their emotions, and the happenings of their lives. We even get to write make-believe letters to some of these very characters and sometimes, we even dabble in the world of poetry. 

Confession: Sometimes, I pretend that I'm in a two-person book club with this ten-year-old friend of mine. 

At my first meeting with this friend, I asked her what her favorite book was. Though she named several, one of them stood out to me: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I jotted it down on my "To read" list. After getting my hands on it, I read it in a day. 

Filled with a deep sadness that I don't often associate with a children's book, it touched on the brokenness and fragility of life, but equally whisked me away in a state of nostalgia, bringing back memories of the past, childhood conjectures and reveries. The story is about Edward Tulane, a china rabbit and his journey with many owners. A rabbit who learns to love and be loved and to hope in love.

Reading this story, I dug up a memory from the dusty depths of my childhood. Sometime in elementary school (I was probably around the same age as my previously mentioned friend), I had had a stuffed animal dog - possibly a mix between a Black Lab and a Rottweiler. I believe it was a gift my brother had received, but somehow this dog became mine. She was my companion on a family trip to Maryland. Unfortunately, my absent-mindedness led me to leave this companion behind at the hotel.

When I came to this realization, I cried. I cried at the thought of having abandoned my "dog". I cried because I felt guilty. "I'm a horrible owner... How could I have forgotten about my dog?" My vivid imagination took me on a downward spiral, envisioning my dog's less-than-fortunate encounter with future owners, less-loving, some even abusive. 

My dad luckily came to my rescue. He dialed the number to the hotel we had stayed at, and requested they mail us my dog. I remember the relief that washed over me after our reunion. 

It pains me to think that I don't even remember what I had named this "dog" of mine, nor do I know where this dog is now. And it got me thinking... 

When had I stopped dreaming? What had come of my imagination? When did I become more consumed with others' expectations than valuing the core of who I am? 

For in every adult there dwells the child that was...
— John Connolly

But that fourth-grader is still there, somewhere inside of me. Her dreams, her hopes, her imagination, her innocence... they're still here, in the deepest chambers of my heart. 

When Y proposed to me (almost six years ago!), underneath the magnificent starry ceiling of the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal, he said one line I will always remember: "I want to grow old and young with you." I giggled as he nervously uttered these words, because it was a play-on-words (his name being Young). I secretly thought to myself, "How can you grow young?" and I chuckled mainly because I too was nervous. But little did twenty-four-year-old Grace realize what a profound statement this was. 

"It takes a very long time to become young." -Pablo Picasso

"It takes a very long time to become young." -Pablo Picasso