“I wanna go home,” I said to my brother as we continued shakily through the air. As I turned away a tear, unkempt, traced the frame of my freckled nose.
We were halfway through our flight from Shanghai to inland China, and for the third time an elderly Chinese man had let himself into the cramped airplane lavatory to smoke a cigarette, causing all of us to indulge in his cancer stick with him.
Uncharacteristically I let the tear fall from my chin. I decided I didn’t care if my little brother saw me cry. But one tear later I stopped myself. No use crying over something that can’t be.
I realized then that I wasn’t sad because I missed home, or even because I was uncomfortable and frankly concerned for our safety on this flying matchbox. No, I was homesick for a childhood passed. One filled with innocence, or at least selected ignorance, fresh cut grass and watermelon, a four-pawed protector and friend, unguarded smiles, and just enough time to live in the moment. I was aching for a time and place that could never be for me again.
I think that’s why women want children. In abandoned moments, before thinking better of it, that is why I want children. To give them a childhood like mine– even better– and longer too. A time where laughter is constantly ringing through your body, buzzing just below the surface, always eager to present itself. When nothing is shameful or forbidden and singing and dancing follow close like shadows behind us, and often catch up just in time for a few ballads of ecstasy. And eventually, a time when young love comes to life in an unexpected occasion and hollows out your insides.
No, even at 22 one can only look back fondly, and often somberly, at such beautiful, magnificent, outrageously golden moments that still singsongingly call to us uselessly to come back to them.