When I was young I had shallow, ankle-deep, fantasies. I dreamt of waking up in a castle with hundreds of cats, dogs, and toys I could ever want. I dreamt of being famous, with one million butlers who served only my favorite foods. I wanted ponies so I could form a battalion and go to war with all my enemies. I wanted an observatory, not because I liked stars but because it would be nice to have one. But most of all, I wanted money.
Even at the ripe age of ten, I understood the grip monetary value had on our autonomy, to a limit of course. I noticed how my teachers were always mumbling about how they didn’t get paid enough, I noticed when adults would lock their doors when they went into specific neighborhoods, and I knew that the people by the bridges didn’t live in tents because it was convenient. But I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go to Dollar Tree with three dollars and not buy three things. Because while I understood tax existed, my ten-year-old brain just wanted to buy crayons, a notebook, and chips.
My mom always said I had an old person’s brain in a child’s body. This made me feel good because I quickly learned that when adults said this it meant I was better than other kids. It meant I was people-trained. I was the kid my parent’s friends didn’t mind talking to because I was just that sophisticated. You can imagine how annoying this was, especially for my little sister to have someone in your ear saying, “But what about the consequences?”. I grew out of this by the sixth grade, further proof that bullying does work, dedicating myself to the 7-Eleven gangs that would flock together after school (a bunch of eleven-year-olds with huge backpacks eating Cheetos) because they would elevate the pre-pubescent status that was all the rage back then. Though, every once in a while I would let my facade slip, listening to R&B songs instead of Sonic Youth (who I love now, but back then I just pretended to listen to them because it was cool).
My grief for who I was comes every fortnight when I’m stressed about college applications and whether or not I can make a career out of writing. I wish little me would’ve stopped eating leaves off the ground and instead studied for PSATs so that by the time I was a Freshman I could be a super-baby-genius. But then I remember how I used to stack spare sheets of paper together and make books with stupid plotlines. Ones where I was a princess living in a lavish castle with Harold’s magic purple crayon, because I could use it so much better than he could. I think if I gave up those silly little childhood dreams I would’ve burnt out and flown too close to the sun like an egotistical Icarus. As for the future, I go on, sitting here now, hunched and aged in the shape fate made me. With my past, a leering ghost, returning to its haunt.