Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I like to stare at the ceiling at 1 am.

"Do you promise?"
"Say it?"
"Yes, I promise."

So simple. And so easily said. Yet those words form a complex system based on trust and follow-through. Those three words can sum up a belief system, a vocalized feeling, and maybe even a future action. When I was younger it seemed so much easier to just believe a person when they said 'I promise'. There was no guilty ache in the bottom of my heart, no rising-sick-feeling in my stomach. I just believed.

Maybe we hooked pinkies, hugged on the deal, or made a vow, but no matter what we did, my friends and I knew our promises could be kept. There was no concept of lying to each other-- sure, we lied to our parents when we wanted to do something we approved of, but there was no lying to friends or other loved ones.

"L'innocence", Centre Pompidou, 2010

Now I find myself making promises with people, hoping they keep their word; wondering if they will come through in the end; wishing my innocent belief systems would come racing back into my life. It's hard to trust others when you've been disappointed throughout your entire life. That's not to say your own life itself has been disappointing, but there are certain times to look back on and wish for a brighter outcome.

How can you be 100% sure another person truly has your back? I guess you never really can. Children believe people have their back because, for one, they usually do, and two, children don't know any better. They don't realize that people lie, deceive, torment and hurt others. Children don't realize that one day, they too will lose the wonderful ability to trust with no hesitation, to love without fear, and to believe in everything.

My guess is that the magic starts to wear off once they find out Santa isn't real. Or that the tooth fairy is really just a parent who leaves a quarter under their pillow and places their tooth in a special box stored in the basement. I honestly hope I never have to lie to my children, that they never realize the tooth fairy isn't real, or that the Easter bunny didn't really bring them the best jelly beans in the city. I hope that they continue to make pinky promises with me, their friends and other loved ones. And I hope they have faith that everyone carries through on their promises. To know how much I've been through, and how hard it is to breathe at night sometimes while I lay awake worrying about the validity of what I hear from a person's mouth, I would never want to subject my children to such a nightmare. I would never want to strip them of their innocent and wonderous belief system.