We were playing a game. No. We weren’t playing a game. We were just playing. There were some rules. No. There weren’t any rules. There were just certain patterns. There will pillows. There were feathers. Everyone in the room couldn’t stop laughing. My then six-year-old heart was pounding. I was out of breath from laughing, jumping, swinging... Our young bodies echoed off of the mattress that was so bouncy we felt we could jump to Neverland if we wanted to… But we didn’t want to. We were so happy where we were, jumping in cotton hand-me-downs, chasing each other around the bed and sofa. My thin set of bangs appeared to be permanently matted to my forehead. We were all soaked in sweat. The heat of the moment was blazing.
For a long while we ignored things that adults have a hard time ignoring: exhaustion, sweat, dehydration, pain. My sister had cut her knee on the corner of the bed, but we continued on as if we were gods. And we were, in fact, untouchable. We played through it like it was nothing. However, finally the aches in our sides were calling for a cool glass of water so loudly, we could not ignore them. We finally slowed down our spinning and prancing. I suggested we all get a drink and then continue on our afternoon fun. My little sisters, all panting and out of breath, were hesitant. I reminded them about the bloody knee, and advised the group that it would be smarter to get a bandaid now rather than later. Wouldn’t our mother be proud of us taking care of ourselves? They all nodded.
We headed to the kitchen. We took out the big colorful plastic cups. We pressed the tab forward that was connected to our freezer, and ice cubes violently popped into our glasses. We filled our cups with filtered water they way our parents had showed us how, and we sat on the kitchen stools drinking up the cool liquid. We were breathing so hard, it was hard to swallow the amount of water we wanted, but we finally emptied our cups.
After a time, our hearts had slowed, our stomachs were filled, and our bodies were hydrated. The bloody knee had been wiped and covered with a tan Band-Aid. We put our cups in the sink like our mother had taught us, and we headed back into our older sister’s bedroom where we were to continue our playing. I could not wait to feel the way I had felt only thirty minutes before.
I stood on the mattress. My other sister grabbed a pillow. She swung it around. I jumped on the bed. My other sister ran behind the sofa. It was oddly quiet.
Something was different. What were the rules again? How did the fun work? How did we run around so much without feeling tired?
After a few more minutes of trying to recreate the fun, we left the pillows and blankets where they were (the way our mother did not show us) and left. We were confused and bewildered. As children, this was a normal feeling we had come to know and not fear. However, this time, I could tell the confusion weighed down our hearts more than usual.
It was then, at the young age of six, that I realized you can’t just put things on pause and expect the magic to wait for you to return. You can’t come back and recreate the best moments of your life. Sometimes thirty minutes of pillows and laughing bliss is all you get, and trying to come back to that moment will only be a disappointing and hollow paper bag of what all of the magic had once felt like.
It was a sad realization, no doubt. But it was a lesson well learnt. Now, whenever I find myself in life throwing pillows, laughing until I can’t breathe… I know better than to walk away to care for my aches, pains, thirst, and other realistically adult and human ailments. I know that magic is rare, that magic is real, and that when it is happening to you, you stay standing on that spring mattress and swing that pillow until there isn’t a single feather left to fluff into the air.