When I was a little girl I used to Promise everything. It was the closest I could get to Swearing a Solemn Oath - Swearing being strictly forbidden, and therefore incredibly alluring. I'm still not sure where a 5 year old got the concept of Swearing a Solemn Oath, unless it came from Robin Hood, who was basically my hero for the majority of my adolescent life. Promises seemed much more binding, more romantic, more tragic than simply saying 'Yes, I can do that'. Promises were the perfect method for creating a Profound Moment, and even as a child I craved that.
I remember when I was about 6 years old, my dad started a business handcrafting bent willow furniture. This was a glorious endeavor in my eyes, and oh how I wanted to be a part of it! I tried to help, but my long hair got caught in the drill and scared the bejeezus out of me. The shame of having interrupted his noble work overwhelmed me, and I crept away to ponder how I could make it up to him. Suddenly a thought seized me - I would carry on his work when he no longer could! As I grew up, I would watch and learn, and ensure that his legacy would never be forgotten! Back to the work bench I ran, pulling a little ribbon out of my hair. I cut it into three parts and braided it, attaching it to the work bench with a tack nail.
"Daddy" I said solemnly, pointing out the braid. "That is a sign of my Promise to always make bent willow furniture when you're old and can't do it anymore. I will do it forever."
I don't remember his response, but the moment had a huge impact on me. This was something that would be written down! My descendants would read it and marvel at my staunch courage and maturity at such a young age!
Wishes are another thing entirely. The world runs on Promises; businesses exist on promises from employees, friendships grow around promises, marriages work and exist on promises. But Wishes...ah wishes, what are they? Merely a futile expression of desire to see improvement, whether it be as vast as world peace, or as small as a tooth under your pillow?
December 23, 2005. I'm standing on the deck of a ferry boat with a bunch of people around my age. Two families are headed to the ski slopes to celebrate Christmas together - a ridiculous, very, very stupid plan that I was not in the least happy about. Several of us happened to have pennies in our pockets, enough to share with those who didn't, and we all decided to throw them in the water and make a wish. I closed my eyes really tight and wished for an amazing Christmas. Not the best Christmas ever, but just a really happy one.
That night my sister was killed.
I've become rather jaded regarding wishes. To this day I refuse to throw pennies in wishing wells, or any other kind of water for that matter. Maybe it's this lingering doubt that my personal wish-genie has a twisted sense of humor and will grant me exactly the opposite of what I wish for. A sneaking suspicion that God hates when you ask anything else but Him for something. A weird feeling that maybe in a past life I must have been an axe murderer and Karma really is vindictive.
In my sane mind, I know that's all ridiculous. But it wasn't until last week that I was able to make a little, teensy, tentative wish when I saw a shooting star.