Sage knew I never wanted to be a cheerleader. He is seven years old and has as many middle names. I think this makes him wise. He has that inherent sense built on a mound of curiosity that allows kids to smell the bullshit adults spout - same way dogs smell fear. This kid had a head start in reality; he is inquisitive, insightful and true. I won't argue with him, he can count the facts of life on one hand.
I work with Sage's mother. I met him at an NBA outing for work. Heavy lidded and jovial from my pre game antics, I wandered into the nosebleed seats at the Target Center. I plopped down in front of Sage, his mother and three year old sister. I was just in time for the sparkling dancing girl halftime show. I turned to three year old Jada and said,
"I think I want to be a cheerleader when I grow up."
I was attempting to impress their mom with my wit and rapport.
Dead pan honest, Sage replied over my shoulder,
"You are grown up."
I swallowed hard. Shut my mouth and could feel my face flush. I told him he was right and settled into my seat. So much for rapport. Nicole chuckled and introduced me to her kids and Sage's father. She told me that Sage was honest. I swirled the waxy chips in my cup of beer, remembering why sobriety made me ache.
Initially, I felt Sage had taught me a lesson, helped me put things in perspective. I felt the truth would assist in prying off the lichen of sadness through the pursuit of knowledge. I would improve my life by accepting the fact that I am no longer a child and behave accordingly. Stand on my own instead of supporting myself with my imagination.
A month has passed and a birthday clicked by. The reflection of time and the words produced a sublime melancholy floating in fear. I'm scared.
I've been dreaming of second chances for too long. Dwelled and pined over women who do not love me. The heart I wear is shrivled and the sleeve it rests upon is torn, withered. This facade of hope is not admirable. Trust is admirable. For Sage, trust does not become or arrive, it is heavy business. It must be earned. Stinky beer breath and nonsense jokes don't cut it. If I wanted to accept reality, I might know this.
I've begun to build walls of responsibility around myself. I thought this was the criteria for adulthood. Sage reminded me that despite the fortified walls, behind I remained a scared and insecure child. Just an empty space with my dreams floating away like the red balloon in that lunchtime movie. How can I stand on a void? Why must I sacrifice the faith of my childhood to become an adult? This is not responsible. This is tragic, a calamity comparable to Dudley Do-Right failing to save the maiden from the impending train. A man alone behind walls is not a marvel to witness. Sage spelled it out for me.
Then dreams come and I begin to place them together, side by side, atop one another. Adulthood does not mean I must accept the status quo. I am free, alive. Though constricted by the vice of society, I am not limited to misery and lonliness. Being grown up means I have the choice, which brings the difficulty of change. This is life and I will live.
I want to tell Sage to hug his mom every day. To keep his dreams safe in his pocket. Being brought into this world without our individual consultation is an injustice. Giving up is the romantic way out, but sticking up to it is a treacherous quest with eventual and amazing rewards.
Being a grown up means you have a second chance.