When I was nine years old I lived in an apartment complex not too far from where I live now. It was 1984, the year after my father left. I remember it being a nice place to live, with a swimming pool and plenty of kids my age to hang out with. It was a nice area at the time, no gangs like there are now.
One late afternoon, my friend Chris and I were sprawled out on the large patch of grass that bordered our apartment building. The ground was cool and soft. It was a spot we’d adopted for times like these: worn out from running and playing at the park across the street.
“You’re really bad at playing catch,” he said to me. He wasn’t trying to be cruel, just insightful.
“I know. I can’t play sports.”
“You can, you just have to practice.”
No amount of practice would ever make me good at sports. I was thin and wiry. My features were girly – soft jaw, feathered hair, skinny neck. But I was friendly, and I had a sincere disposition I’d gotten from my mother. It made me feel good that Chris had faith in me.
We were on our stomachs, picking at the small clovers that hid in the grass. It was a way to pass the time while we caught our breath. Then it happened, the unexpected, a rush of elation that made me sit up. “Oh my god!” I shouted.
“Did you find one???” Chris was up now, on his knees.
We huddled close. There, pinched delicately between my fingers, was a four-leaf clover.
I felt such a pure and profound sense of possibility. In my young age, my naiveté, I truly believed I had acquired three wishes. It was like believing in Santa Claus all over again. The world opened up to me. Chris and I sat and actually discussed what we wanted, as if we’d wake up the next day and be a sports here and millionaire, respectively. We wished for our families to have whatever they wanted. We wished for more wishes. We wished the day would never end.
I remember hurrying to show my mother what I’d found. She was so pleased that she suggested I tuck the clover into a special place, right away, for safe keeping. “Inside a book,” she said, “on a page you’ll never forget. How about the dictionary? Under ‘lucky.'” I did exactly that.
The next day I was not a millionaire. Chris was not a professional baseball player. We were not living in spectacular mansions.
Funny, my wish now, as an adult, is to experience that feeling again. That sense of vast, unlimited possibility. The rush of being completely free of responsibility. My life is wonderful, and I certainly have no complaints worth mentioning. But to be carefree? To not have those hurdles ahead? To not be confronted, everyday, by adversity? It’s interesting how your wants change when you become an adult.
Childhood is gone. The magic of a four-leaf clover doesn’t exist. I am curious sometimes, what I would do if I happened across another four-leaf clover. Would I feel that spark of possibility? Would I place it into the safe page of a book? The pessimist in me says “Let it go, Sean.” But the optimist in me says, “There’s a little possibility in everything.”