something about being young

I leaned over in my seat and whispered to Jessica, “This is the last time they’ll all be on stage together.” I hadn’t meant it to be mean, but I saw her wince and immediately regretted it, feeling like the big sister that leans down from the top bunk to whisper “mom and dad are going to die someday” before turning off the light.

Anyway, it was true and I didn’t want her to miss it. It does hurt a little to think about them—so young, raw, and eager—and what they must be feeling, looking around at each other, and taking bows together for the last time. Maybe some of them will work together again, but probably not.

It feels like the end of summer camp, when everything is heightened and taught, when you’re so tired but swear you’ll do whatever it takes to make this feeling last forever, and you already know you can’t. There’s already always something nagging at you, reminding you that this isn’t real life, and this heartbursting joyful sorrow will pass.

I didn’t want her to miss it because if you know it’s coming, you can watch for it and see it spread around the room. And seeing it on other people’s faces reminds you just a little of what that felt like, to be incredibly alive and full of emotion. You can’t miss that.

After the show, Liz and I followed flashing lights to the street corner outside where a few police cars and a small crowd were clustered. We saw Lizzy and Dot and ran over to them. “What’s going on?” I asked Dot. “It’s the circus,” she said. “They just walked the elephants and horses down the street and they’re getting ready to unload the tigers.” Of course. It’s the last time they’ll all be together and the circus is in town, moving caged animals off trucks in the middle of the night.

I miss it. Feeling hopeful and exhausted. Looking for meaning everywhere in everything. Searching for a path or a direction or a sign because you know you’re on your way somewhere else, because you know there are things on the map better than this. You know because you got a taste of it once and you’ll try to find it again every day after that and you’ll never give up the chase.