Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. A little fairy dust, a wish, and you fly to Neverland, aided by Peter Pan, where the only troubles you’ll face are Captain Hook and his pirates. Time and age don’t exist in this world, so eternity is in the mind and world of little boys and girls. A world to escape, to explore, to never grow up.
Meet Wendy Moira Angela Darling, a girl whose parents want to move her out of the nursery and into the world of womanhood. She refuses; she would rather tell stories to her brothers. She’ll stare up into the heavens, from her window, into a wide-eyed starry night, dreaming of that strange boy who flew into her bedroom, seeking his lost shadow. “Boy, why are you crying?” she asks him, before giving him a kiss. In return, he takes her hand, off to that second star, to Neverland, year after year, another adventure, another thimble-kiss goodnight.
Was it amazing? If you watched “Hook,” you’ll be able to answer that question. From Gwenyth Paltrow until she became Dame Maggie Smith. But how many trips to Neverland does it take before the thrill fades? When even our little escapes falls into routine?
It is about 120 miles away from my Neverland. San Diego. It is where I will find Peter Pan, away from the existential crises that is my writing career. Here, I am still an eldest son to my family in Escondido, and a mother to my closest of friends. I am also Wendy to my Peter Pan, who is slowly growing fond of his L.A. life, his Captain Hook, a metaphorical symbol of growing up.
I always knew I was going to be a writer. I always knew I was going to find myself in LA. And I always knew I was going to make it. What I didn’t plan for was falling in love. I avoided it, much like in this blog because I knew I had to make a decision: to stay in San Diego or move to LA. I didn’t plan for the dedication I would put in, to work two jobs and write just as much, just to be rejected by countless residencies and minority fellowships. Sure it is a rite-of-passage, but did that discourage me from writing? Maybe for a hot second; but here I am, pouring my heart and soul out to a bunch of strangers I might never meet.
Four years later, I am still in LA, and like Wendy Moira Angela Darling, I too make a habit out of my trips to Neverland, with Peter Pan by my side. Up until recently, about a couple days ago to be exact, I found that maybe it is time to grow up. Neverland is great, but I always return, back to that bay window, waiting for the next trip when I could be writing stories of my adventures.
Sometimes you do need a reset. With all this hustling us creatives do per day, it is nice to have a place, a book, a world in which we can retreat. Other times, you need to understand the key to all this hard work is all in timing.
Lights lit up a dark room, without an On-switch. You might even say it’s magic; that is, if you were unaware of plug-in switches. Around me, fish tanks, Christmas trees, and tract lights illuminate my world, one by one, as if summoned. Sure, I could have a logical explanation for this phenomena, but my mind was somewhere else, studying the tiles on some mosaic mirror in front of me.
I was lost in the details. I wondered about the artist and their own origin story. Was this handcrafted by someone with a passion for mosaic tiling? Or someone who just wanted to collect a paycheck. I can almost hear that person haphazardly say to someone “it’s easy work,” before returning to their sudsy beer or soggy sandwich. But, deep down, I really wanted this artist to be dedicated, to throw his passion into inspiring someone enough to invest their hard-earned money into this beautiful mirror.
My mind dove even further down into questioning where the artist draws the line? When their passion for this tiling becomes just another labor of lackluster love? When even their passions become cumbersome, another means of making rent, of putting food at the table. Can there be a breaking point where our work, our writing, becomes just another routine, one that warrants another regularly scheduled trip to our Neverland?
“Everything is on a timer.” I hear some voice explain in a distant part of reality. And, while my friend was merely stating a fact, I went elsewhere. Back to that deep thought. Don’t we always make a simple truth into something deeper? A metaphor to make sense of our madness that is reality itself?
Wendy saw it…eventually.
In “Hook,” shewaits by the bay window of her home. The same window where she waited for Peter, years ago, for her regularly scheduled escape to that second star to the right. She reflects from the times when seeing his silhouette was exhilarating, when her problems would fade, even if for a moment. Until she realized she was growing too old to play, to fly, to run away from responsibility. Sometimes it is best to understand your happiness and dedication and just commit.
So, it begs the question, one that I keep addressing, as if to affirm myself, when do our trips, our creations, to Neverland turn lackluster? If then, does our self-realization draw a line in the sand, on paper, or in the stars, that enough is enough? That our commitment to reality might be more worth investing than adventures with mermaids, crocodiles, and Lost Boys? When the timer to one light goes off so another can come on?