Anything

anything by mason wordAnything

by Mason Word

Dedicated to my soul mate: in all the forms they have taken throughout my life


What do you want to be when you grow up is what they always asked me. They said I could be anything. I told them I wanted to be a walnut then they told me I could not do that because I was not a tree. Then I told them I wanted to be a tree. They said that I was a boy and that boys could not be trees. Then I asked them if girls could be trees and they said that girls cannot be trees either. So I said I wanted to grow up to be a boat and sail on the ocean. They said I could not be a boat because I was a boy. I asked them if girls could be boats and they told me that girls cannot be boats either. So then I said I wanted to be an airplane and fly high up in the sky. They told me I could not be an airplane either and then say said that girls cannot be airplanes, too.

Right after that, this girl I know in class shouted out to them and she told all of us that girls can be airplanes. She jumped up out of her seat and started running through the room with her arms out making this loud engine sound. I saw her and I told the teachers that girls can be airplanes and that if a girl could be an airplane then I could be an airplane too. They did not like that. They shouted at us and told us to stop. The girl just kept running around the room and, you know what, I started running around the room with her. I was an airplane.

I may not have been all grown up yet but I was following my dreams. I was shameless and she was too. We met each other for the first time, for real, that day in the principal’s office. She had a frown on her face and I asked her why. She told me that she would be in trouble when she got home. I did not understand it then and, to be honest, I do not think I will ever understand it. I got in trouble that night when I got back to my house so I guess I may know why she was frowning now, looking back, just a little bit.

I am still dreaming. I am still shameless; just like I was when I first met her. I did not know it for a long time, but I was always meant to be an airplane. The grown-ups told me I could not be an airplane. They spanked me, and they shouted, and they told me I was wrong. They got mad at me and told me all this right after they told me I could be anything. I believed them and, even though they may not have even believed their own selves, I still do.

That girl taught me how to do many other shameless things too. She taught me how to pick my nose and how to eat my boogers. She taught me how to wad up bread into a ball and rub it with your spit to make it taste better. She taught me how to not get caught during nap time while I was not sleeping and, most of the time, she even stayed up with me. I may not have been telling the whole truth about that airplane thing, but the thing she taught me that mattered the most was this: she taught me how to love.

We were just little kids, but when I was with her I knew I could be anything. We may not have known it at the time but she really meant a lot to me. I was a little kid in a world full of grownups that had forgotten who they really were. I was told that I could be anything but then I was told that I could not do this and I could not do that. Where is the lie, you know, because I could see that there was a lie right there in front of my face even if all of those grownups could not see it for themselves?

Me and that girl; we were tight. We were really close. We used to sit together on the monkey bars out on the playground and eat these things together called shock tarts. You may not know about them though. There have not been any shock tarts around for a long time. I will always remember those tangy bites though and the bittersweet times I shared with her.

The grown-ups always told us to separate. They did not like seeing us together, but we did not see anything wrong with it. We were friends and we knew then that friends stick together. The grown-ups would chase us off of one set of monkey bars and we would just go on to the next one. One day though, the grown-ups really did get us to separate.

One day, sometime between Halloween and Christmas, she told me that she had to go. She said it was going to be for good this time. She told me not to tell her that it was nice knowing her. She said that if I say, “It was nice knowing you,” then I would never see her again. I said it anyway. I told her it was nice knowing you because, some part of me knew the truth, I knew that I would never see her again.

I was sad and I was in a sad world. I had enough trouble at home with the spankings I would get and the grown-ups there shouting at me. They all told me I could be anything. I said that I wanted to be an airplane, and I was an airplane, but they did not want me to be an airplane, and they kept bringing me down.

Then the other kids around me started acting like the grown-ups. I was gaining weight. They said I could not be fat. I did not see anything wrong with me. I thought I could be anything. They all thought I was wrong. They said it was wrong to be fat. They taught me what shame meant. That is something I wish I could forget.

I learned how to feel shame from the other kids, I learned how to feel embarrassment from my gramps, I learned how to be wrong from all the grown-ups and now the kids too, and I learned pain first from my father, and then from everyone else around me. I knew that this world was against me and that only god was on my side. I just wanted to be an airplane, but the anti-air missiles just kept coming.

Then all the people at church started to tell me I was wrong, too. None of them liked me. A lot of these kids had been my friend once but now they thought that something was wrong with me. I never gave up on my dream. I wanted to be an airplane. I knew I was different, but I also knew that being different did not mean I was wrong.

I was taken away a few times to some scary places because I did not do what everyone else wanted me to do. I knew I could do anything and I was not afraid of the pain, or the shame, or the embarrassment, and I was not afraid to be wrong. I was told that I could be anything and, even if all the grownups and all the kids now too did not believe it, I still knew it was true.

I wanted to be who I am. I was always who I am. How can you really change that? How can you ever really be anything that you are not? All the other kids, if you can still call them kids, forgot what the grown-ups told us then. They started calling each other things like fake, and poser, and wannabe, and outcast, but I knew that all those things were a lie. I knew that I could be anything and I was determined to be what I wanted to be.

I tried to change for these other kids, and I tried to change for my parents, and I tried to change for my gramps. I wanted to fit in. I wanted all of the other people around me to know that I could be an airplane. They may have tried to keep me down but I never let go of the sky. The days were cloudy and the nights were cold but I never lost sight of that warmth in my heart. She may not have still been with me, but she knew that she could be an airplane. Since she knew that she could be an airplane then, I knew that I could still fly.

God had left me, I had no friends, my entire family was trying to bring me down to the ground, but I still was in the air. I may not have realized how high I was still flying, but I was going strong. The power was within me. I never lost sight of that dream. I wanted to be an airplane in a world full of anti-air missiles. I wanted to embody my own truth in a world full of lies.

I was hurt and I even stopped believing it for myself. I saw this world full of people doing this thing called jobs. I saw all of these people going to this place called college. I thought that if I tried to be like them then I would fit in, that maybe I could belong, and that the missiles would stop coming my way. I had learned how to be a plane and how to fly a little too well. Even when I tried to bring my own self down, I could not do it. I was an airplane whether I liked it or not.

I was scared. I did not want to feel pain. I did not want to feel shame. I did not want to be all alone. I kept thinking that I could find her again; that maybe I could find another person like that girl that could help me forget about all the things the grownups said were wrong. I kept flying, looking for a light in the distance, and looking for a safe place that was not full of missiles where I could land.

I think I finally found that place. I found her again. This time though it was not a girl. This time the person that taught me that I could be shameless again was a man. He had the same dreams as I did. He had the same vision. The grown-ups told me when I was growing up that it was wrong for two boys to be together. I find it funny now that they still think that I care about a single thing they have to say.

They told me that I could be anything. I said I wanted to be an airplane, and even if this whole airplane thing is just some metaphor for the hopes and dreams, an innocence that I have never lost, I know that the way I am traveling now is the way I need to go. I am still flying, higher now than I have in many years, and I am flying back to the memories that I still hold dear. I said it was nice knowing you, but some things never change. Those days in the playground, I was yours and you were mine. Neither of us may have realized it then, but you taught me how to love and you taught me that I really could be anything. Now I am an airplane and, the way I am heading, I am flying back to you.

I love you, Quinn.

***

EDITORS NOTE: When I opened this submission, I truly did not expect the magick that I was about to experience. This is an amazing tale that should teach us all that fighting to be who and what we truly are is one of the most important things one can possibly do in life. My hat is off to you Mr. Word. 


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