Pinkie Promise

When I was a little girl, my mother would always bring me to a piano class given by a young conservatory student. When I first walked into her apartment, I saw you playing the piano. That is when I fell in love with the instrument. You were very good back then, you are very talented. Later on you told me that what you really wish to do is not to play the piano but to conduct an orchestra. I, on the other hand, have very little talent with the piano and preferred my art. But it was always so fun to play with you and that kept me in class.

One day, you came to class with confusion on your face. I asked you why, and you told me that you couldn’t understand your mother.

“Why is it that mum wants me to take piano lessons when she herself doesn’t want to touch the piano?” You asked me after class. “She told me she wanted to play the piano herself when she was younger. I just don’t get it! If she wants to play, then why doesn’t she take piano lessons, too?” You finished in desperation.

That time, my older female cousins already stopped playing dolls with me. They told me that they were too old for it and that they are big girls already. So, I told you what they told me.

“Stupid kid, that’s because your mom is already grown up! There are things that grownups can’t do.”

“Why?” You insisted. “They’re already grownups! They should be able to do anything!”

“That’s just the way it is when you grow up.” I said in resignation. I don’t understand it myself. I don’t understand it why big girls can’t play dolls, and why your mum can’t learn to play the piano.

“Promise me we’ll never grow up,” you finally said after a moment of silence.

“That’s stupid! Of course we’ll grow up!” I didn’t understand you back then. What do you mean not grow up? Of course I wanted to grow up. I wanted to meet my prince charming and live happily ever after.

“No, I mean, let’s promise not to be like them. Let’s promise we’ll never grow up.”

“Whatever.” We locked our pinkie fingers to signify the promise.

~*~

One afternoon, you came to class crying. You said your mum lied to you and that you found out that your dad is never coming back. I was confused. How can he not come back? And even if he doesn’t come back, you can always go to him. After all, he’s just in Europe. Later on I learned that for two years you were lead to believe that you’re father is abroad when the truth is that he died in a car accident.

You asked me why your mom lied to you. I gave you the only reason my young mind understood back then: they lie because they’re grownups and that’s what grownups do. I told you that one day, I will lie and that you, too, will learn to lie.

“Don’t say that,” you said in between sobs. “We’ll never grow up, remember?”

~*~

Short of a month I stopped coming to class. I had issues with our piano teacher and my lack of talent. And for two years I hardly saw you. I stopped playing the piano and dedicated myself to painting under the instruction of my beloved uncle. Much to my surprise, in third grade, I found myself transferring to your school.

You became better with the piano while I no longer play. You said that you were going to enter a conservatorium; I said I want to go to an art school. Every day your music gets even better and every performance brings you even closer to your dreams. My art, on the other hand was never good enough, at least not for me. I was envious of you. You were already fulfilling your dreams while I still haven’t started. You were very talented while I was never good enough.

One afternoon, I saw you practising at the music room. That was a week before your recital. I asked you why you were practising so early. You told me that you’ve always practised: recital or no recital. I saw then your passion, your determination. I saw back then that whatever you have achieved, you have worked hard for. I saw then that what people attributed to talent was a product of hard work and determination.

I told you then my fears that my parents would want me to pursue a university degree. I told you my fears about growing up, about having to meet expectations. I was starting to experience it at school and at home. Soon everyone will have expectations on us, and soon we have to meet it. Then, suddenly, you stopped playing.

“But that’s growing up. We’ll never grow up.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

~*~

I was the first to lie. I told you that I want to re-learn the piano and you offered to teach me. As much as I love the instrument, I no longer have the heart to play it. I only wanted to play with you. It’s so fun to play with you.

Eventually, I told you the truth. I knew I hurt you back then. Eventually, you, too, learned to lie. Back then I thought, ‘Soon, we will grow up’.

~*~

During high school I didn’t see you anymore. And I forgot about our promise. I must have unconsciously realised about this because when I was in high school, I came up with a new resolve: I will not make a promise I can’t or have no intention to keep. I wanted desperately to grow up and to be independent. I learned a lot of things that I’d rather not have known. Also, I stopped believing in fairy tales.

When I entered university, I abandoned all plans of attending art school. I learned not to pursue a dream that may just as well be pure fantasy. I learned how to build and rebuild dreams holding on to nothing but the here and now. I learned to accept what can’t be and what is expected of me. I learned to make do but never quite ceased dreaming. I held on to one belief: everything can be adapted to.

~*~

I never expected to see you in my university. It was your recital. I couldn’t believe when I saw your name from a poster at the college of music. It said that you will be conducting our university’s orchestra. It also said that you are a conducting major from a music school in Vienna.

I attended your recital. I didn’t expect you to recognise me. After all, eight years is a very long time. You, surely, have changed. I did. When I saw you, I realised immediately that you haven’t changed at all: the way you carry yourself, your childish smile and your childhood dreams.

~*~

We talked after your recital. You were so much the same. You still hold the same dreams, the same convictions. I had changed, you told me. And I told you that you surprised me because you haven’t changed at all. I envied you. How you can still laugh like a naïve school boy confident that you can take on the world. How you still refuse to let go of your dreams. How you are still in love with what you can someday be. And you were still patiently waiting for that day to come while I had already moved on.

We no longer have anything in common but the past. So, we recalled stories of what once was. Of what you still are. We exchanged long overdue apologies of little white lies and of things we could hardly remember.

You asked me why I abandoned my dreams of going to an art school. When, you asked, did I lose my confidence against the world? I answered you with the one thing I can somehow understand now:

“I grew up. “

“What happened to the pinkie promise?”

I smiled. You were still the same.

“Pinkie promise?” I said thoughtfully. “Oh, yeah, I guess I broke it. I’m sorry.” And I was sorry maybe more for myself than to you. But I was, truly.

Responses

  1. OMG enjoyed reading this blogpost. I added your feed to my google reader!!


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