Warrior Words: For my sisters

When my sisters and I were young, everything was an adventure. Our swing set was an elaborate sea vessel, in precarious relationship to the pirate ships that roamed in our back yard. Our carefully constructed lean-to was the site of ultimate survival on a desert island. Our chores were done in castles, to absolute perfection, never daring to disturb the queen and king.

Now everything is pragmatic. The afternoon consists of calculated activities, schoolwork and jobs that adhere to a strict schedule, devoid of imagination. Make-believe has been usurped by aspirations for the future that we will never allow to slip into the confines of a simple fairy tale.

In a few days, I will permanently walk the plank, swim away from the island and flee the castle as I step across the stage and receive my high school diploma. I will anticipate the moment and it will haunt me up until the second my feet meet the soft touch of the turf field and my legs move by memory carrying a child that first learned to sit, then crawl, then walk and now who must learn to grow up.

Eighteen years and four months of one life will culminate as another begins. The new life is ruled by possibility and the doubt and hope that inevitably accompany such a change. Expectations are different, the world is now contextualized as “real” and the boundaries that were once so open in the minds of a young girl and her sisters are again opened, but to something entirely different. People tell us that the world is ours, that the sky is the limit and assure us that the moon is a safe place to land if stars are truly unattainable. People also tell us that the world is harsh, that it will hold us in its cynical talons and that disappointment will begin to exist with ubiquity.

I will begin a new chapter, so will my older sister, now 21 and a college graduate and so will my little sister, now 14 and soaring out of eighth grade into the high school where I strove and attempted to achieve excellence. We are each the little girls with tangled hair and grass-stained knees running around in our fabricated lands, we are each the girls who grew up and learned to look twice before crossing any new situation and who felt the heft and bulk of work upon our shoulder blades and we are each the young women who now feel that a choice must be made to either live in the fantasy or cast it aside for harsh reality.

The beauty of this choice is that it does not diverge like Robert Frost’s famous roads in a yellow wood, but rather offers a middle road, neither traveled nor abandoned, but created by those who choose to follow it. My sisters and I will make this road for ourselves, the path that combines the innocence and creativity that marked our youth with the tenacity and dedication that marked our adolescence. As we stand, the three of us together, we will never leave the people we once were and will never abandon what we taught each other along the way, so as rites of passage are completed, tassels moved from one side to another, we can march forward hand in hand, as we take on the future with the young girls within us, who learned first to dream and then to do, moving in every stride.

Maddie Hoffman is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.