Last Thursday, London was lashed with torrential rain. I walked home two and a half miles in the torrential rain, hoping against hope that I might feel something.
I felt very little, even with my hands upturned to the rain. I felt numb. Not numb from the cold, but from being unfeeling. It was 37 years since Jim Morrison died, and it turns out that I still care. I’ve been told that anniversaries mean nothing, that they’re just arbitrary, meaningless and useless. I find them useful for one reason at least: as a focus for all the pain and grief and hurt so that I can make some attempt at getting on with my own life for the rest of the year. It only works some of the time.
I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian this evening, and have just returned. I left the cinema with tears brimming… as I walked down the road the short journey to my home, a couple escaped and ran down my face. I managed to hold out until I closed my front door. It’s taken me twenty minutes, more or less, to rein myself back in.
Why, you may well ask, did a rather mediocre film inspire such emotion? Was it Ben Barnes’ face? Liam Neeson’s voice? Reepicheep’s tail?
No, none of the above, though Ben Barnes’ face is distractingly striking, Liam’s voice remains a joy to hear and Reepicheep’s new tail filled me with joy.
No, no. The reason is simple: I do not want to grow up. Let me rephrase: I refuse to grow up.
I will not give up Narnia. I will not give up dreaming, scheming and hoping. I will not give in and go quietly into the dark and dull night of adulthood. Fuck that right off. Sorry, but no. I’m sure there’s great things that adults can do, but I don’t care. None of it can compare to the bright wonder of imagination, and being brave enough to be oneself, unreservedly.
Don’t any grown-ups remember what it is to run around a park like a nutter because in your head the park is actually a field of battle? Or leaping from a climbing frame that’s really a castle’s drawbridge? Don’t any of you remember sitting doing nothing and thinking nothing just because you could? Don’t you remember eating so many sweets that you felt sick, just because you could? Don’t you remember being able to play an entire day away without noticing, whether it was outside or playing with dolls or toy cars or just playing make believe?
I can’t think of anything about being a grown up that is good enough to surrender the better parts of childhood. COME ON, TELL ME! SHOW ME? PROVE IT TO ME!
I accept that I am twenty six years old. I do not accept that I am a grown-up. I will pay my rent and my council tax and my other bills by direct debit. I will go and do my duty at work between nine and five, but beyond that I will not surrender. There is nothing you can offer to me that is good enough. I am staying in my many versions of Narnia. I will never be grown up enough to let those go.
Sure, I suppose this means I also relinquish the opportunity to love as a grown up, I suppose I also give up the chance of being a mother (the very definition of being an adult in my opinion). That’s fine. Really, I don’t mind.
There’s nothing about Grown Up Clare that’s appealing to me. Grown Up Clare is charmless, artless and uninteresting. Grown Up Clare has a drink problem. Grown Up Clare didn’t turn out to be a swan after all. Grown Up Clare is not adorable. Grown Up Clare feels like she’s getting fat. Grown Up Clare’s dreams die a little bit more every day. Grown Up Clare is not special. Grown Up Clare is not inspired.
Grown Up Clare does not have a grandfather, nor does she have Jim (who it always comes back to) or Philip. She doesn’t even have the ability or chance to dream them back into a sort of hinterland of reality. Grown Up Clare fucking sucks.
Therefore, I announce formally what I have always believed and tried to achieve: I opt out. I absolutely give up my chance to be a fully-fledged grown up. Fuck that for a game of soldiers. I will make the right noises when required, but never forget that I am the exact same person I was when I was eleven. Ignore the bit in the middle completely. I am the same person who climbed trees, who could quite happily spend six hours in the swimming pool as long as Rich and Louise etc were there, who could watch the same film four times without a break. I am the same person. I’m not even really much more cynical – I was as suspicious of humanity then as I am now.
I’m no different to the girl I was when I was eleven. I am her, and her I choose to remain. You’d have to come up with something really fantastically good to lure me into being a grown up. I’ve checked: there’s nothing I can think of. I refuse to grow up because it has nothing for me.
All that from Prince Caspian. Imagine that. The film wasn’t good enough to merit it, either.