We met when we were 13 on the terrifying first day of 7th grade. She eyed me with suspicion as I wandered behind her through the halls. Finally she said, "Are you following me?" I was, because as it turned out, we were in every class together.
We had sleepovers, ate jellybeans and flipped through magazines, while pondering first kisses.
Over a decade later, at dinner, as our chopsticks shovel noodles into our mouths, she tells me her daughter came home from school jumping around singing, "I'm Dorothy." Her class was performing a small play from The Wizard of Oz.
The actor brain in me gushes, "So cool. That's a big deal." It's the lead, mind you, not Broadway, but still her years fit on both hands, so it's pretty impressive.
My response is normal, a congratulations for a lead part, but it strikes me as odd, as though landing the role means something. Whatever "IT MEANS" now shrouds and flitters around her daughter.
But what does it mean? For all I know, they could've drawn numbers out of a hat?
When I'd arrived at their house earlier, her daughter hopped like a human pogo stick, and showed me how to sit on the edge of the couch without falling off. She tilted her face horizontally and eyed me with interest. "Your ring has an eyeball on it," she said and proceeded to try it on her tiny finger.
She finished our conversation by yelling, "I want to shake my bootie!" which was in direct response to my question, "What kinds of rings do you have?" Then she laughed as though it was her oxygen, bent over and bobbed her butt in the air.
Kids are funny and spontaneous, quirky and honest. They're us before the world made us straight-laced and proper.
All good parents teach their kids unconditional love. My friend doesn't love her kid because she's smart, or funny, or twirls frantic circles in her blue princess dress. She loves her because it's her kid. She just loves her.
The fact that she got the star role in the play doesn't make my friend love her more. She wouldn't love her less if she'd been cast as a tree or a rock.
All kids, with good parents, get to experience this love. They get the feeling that they are enough, simply because they exist.
Then, somewhere along the line, we lose this. Insecurity slips in. We look around and judge our worth. Suddenly, we must prove that we're someone, that we're worthy...
... of the lead role, of the A grade, of first place, or prettiest face, or skinniest body, or most "put together."
We spend our lives trying to prove we are... something.
As adults it's no longer fun to run a race. If we don't win a prize, some imaginary rulebook tells us that we are less than.
But no one has to tell a kid that they're worth it. They believe they are magic. They believe in inherent worth without even knowing the concept.
Somewhere we've let that slip away, but it doesn't mean it's not still there.
As adults, we still possess everything that gave us inherent worth as children.
We must remember what we have forgotten:
We are enough as is.
We are magic.
Just because we win: get promoted, buy a sexy car or a huge house, have tons of money in our bank account...
Just because we don't win, we don't book the audition, or we gain 10 pounds, or our art comes out wrong, or we forget it was our kid's field trip and the bus left five minutes ago.
Just because these things happen they don't have to say something about us as people. They don't have to MEAN something. We are the ones that subject our experience to scrutiny.
As adults we still posses the kernel of truth we held as kids. It sings to us, reminding us that we are enough simply because we exist.
At any moment we can remember and grab hold of the magic again. We always have the intangible essence of who we really are.
It's the thing that caused us to laugh till we were red in the face, and shake our booties in the living room without a care.
As I finish this sentence, I'll send this to my friend for approval. I smile as I think of the notebook we passed back and forth when we were thirteen, full of letters and silly notes.
And I feel like a kid again: when the world was full of sleepovers, and jellybeans, and glow in the dark stars on her wall, each one an infinite possibility. We are still magic and the little kids in us know.
You are magic.
You are magic.
You are magic.