During the holidays while my grown children were home, we watched an old video that they used to enjoy when they were boys, and actually I watched on TV when I was a boy: The broadway musical version of Peter Pan, with Mary Martin.
At the end I was unexpectedly brought to tears and had to leave the room to hide it. Its taken me till today to figure out what got to me.
If you don't know the story, Peter Pan is a boy who lives on a magical island called Neverland where he leads a troop of children known as the "lost boys". Boys in Neverland never grow up and spend eternity playing and having fun without interference from adults. One night Peter appears in the nursery of the Darling family and takes the children, Wendy, Michael, and John Darling flying to Neverland where they spend their time having adventures with pirates, indians, and building forts. They ask Wendy to become their mother, because they "have no one to mend their pockets, tell them stories, or tuck them in at night". In the end, the Darling children return home, along with Peter and the lost boys. The Darlings agree to adopt the lost boys, but Peter refuses and returns to Neverland alone. Before leaving he promises to return every year for Wendy to come and do his spring cleaning....but he never returns. Fast forward many years, and Peter finally comes back for Wendy, but to his shock, Wendy is now a grown woman, married with a child of her own named Jane. Instead, he takes Jane back to Neverland to do his spring cleaning, and as they leave Wendy wistfully says: "Oh how I wish I could come with you!" Peter turns to her with a knowing smile and says: "But you can't Wendy...you see, your'e too GROWN UP!" And off they fly. Close curtain.
So what got to me? Well first of all, the lost boys traded their carefree life of eternal childhood for the love and security of a family, with the certainty that they would have to grow up. I am jealous of the lost boys. My carefree boyhood ended abruptly with a pedophile's abuse, and there was never any family to go to for love and safety. I was alone. My body grew up but emotionally I remained that hurting abused boy, frozen in time
Second, when Peter told Wendy she could not return to Neverland because she had grown up, it reminded me that because I am a man now, I can't go back and reclaim that boyhood...I'll never be a boy again.
So here I am, this man/boy....I can't go back to Neverland....and I have no Darling family to go to to love and protect me. I'm forever caught between Neverland and home. Peter Pan Ending
(Don't be confused by the fact that Peter Pan is played by a woman in tights!)