I take out from the library The Annotated Peter Pan, with introduction and notes by Maria Tatar.

I’ve never before read J. M. Barrie’s original story; I’ve only seen the long-ago television production with Mary Martin as Peter, when I cried so hard at its ending that my mother could not console me.

So now I’m sitting on my living-room rug, my back against a camelback settee, this big book in my lap. I read its opening. Stop reading. Put the book down. Pick it up again. Read a bit more. Stop again. Try again. Stop again.

What stops me? The second paragraph stops me.

The way Mr. Darling won Mrs. Darling was this: the many gentlemen who had been boys when she was a girl discovered simultaneously that they loved her, and they all ran to her house to propose to her except Mr. Darling, who took a cab and nipped in first, so he got her. He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss.

Already I see Ernie and me as Mr. and Mrs. Darling. Ernie writes me a Letter of Proposal and gets me, but he never gets all of me. My innermost box is empty, and I’m stingy with kisses.

I continue with the story. Stop again as Mrs. Darling, each night after her children fall asleep, tidies their minds as she would tidy clothes in a drawer. My Twelve-Step friends would say: This mother is going into places she doesn’t belong; she is not respecting boundaries.

I pick up the book again. Go back to an earlier paragraph.

Mrs. Darling was a lovely lady, with a romantic mind and such a sweet mocking mouth. Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East. However many you discover, there is always one more.

I put Peter Pan down again. I don’t want to read any more of it. Not yet. Not just yet.



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My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.