"If you could choose any age to be, what would you choose and why?"
I know it was just supposed to be a fun question for a group of pre-adolescent girls on a sleepover. They were all probably going to say 16 or 18 or 21 so that they could date and wear makeup and drive. That was the point. But she asked me.
The response that sat like a Mexican jumping bean on the tip of my tongue was, "Eight." But for some reason, my lips wouldn't part to let it out. I swallowed that bean and it has been bouncing around in my belly ever since.
Eight was how old I was when my parents' marriage dissolved.
Eight was how old I was when I began to believe I was responsible for the well-being of my siblings.
Eight was how old I was when I dragged the weight of the world onto my shoulders, bent over double and began slogging forward, determined to support it no matter what.
Do I really want to be eight again?
Would it change anything?
I can't save my parents' marriage, which means I can't prevent any of the disastrous things that happened as a result of their divorce.
I don't even think I would want to, given the experiences I was led to and the people I met because of the split.
Do I want to go back and do it again even if it means I would live through all the same things?
"I don't know," I finally answered, realizing she was waiting for a response. Somehow, saying that I wished I was a kid again felt as though I was betraying her - choosing not to be her parent right now. Knowing that if I did change anything about my childhood my life would not be the same now.
She asked me this question over two months ago and I'm still struggling with the answer.