When I first heard of this Study Abroad, my mind did wander to Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, The Beatles, and other iconic London stories and legends. However, none of them preoccupied my mind, excited my heart, or lit a smile across my face like Peter Pan did.
If anyone knows me well enough, and knows about my love for Peter Pan (if you know the clothing I have with Peter Pan on it, you’re one of those people), you know how excited I truly was to go to London simply because of the fact the Peter Pan was here!
I have visited Big Ben, and only barely did I contain myself then, but now I have had the extreme privilege to visit the Peter Pan statue in Hyde park in Kingston gardens where Peter Pan flew from his nursery in the 1902 tale.
Since I was a little girl, I have loved Peter Pan. I thought the only way that I would ever be a candidate for a lost boy (aside from being a boy, and a child) is by telling stories. I was determined to be just like Wendy Darling, telling stories and being overheard without knowing it.
I loved the stories that Wendy would tell and the adventures she would take her brothers on as she told them. I never understood who the true storyteller was until I was much older.
Wendy might have been the storyteller within the story, but really, it was J. M. Barrie who actually brought the story to life, and is the reason for the wonderful adventures and the incredible opportunity for children to never grow old, even if it is just in their imaginations. It is all thanks to him that I fell so deeply in love with a character who could keep me a child forever.
J.M. Barrie is not the only storyteller though when it comes to Peter Pan, there are many interpretations of the boy who never grows old. Everyone has different interpretations of Peter Pan because the media has allowed people to think of him in any way that they would like to.
One way is Peter Pan is actually the Angel of Death for children who die in their youth. No, not the creepy guy in the cloak, just a boy who leads children to heaven after they have died. It’s one of the more sad but hopeful interpretations.
There is also the more modern interpretation (be warned, spoiler-alert ahead). Thanks to Once Upon A Time, the ABC channel’s iconic twist on all fairy tales, Peter Pan is a bad guy…. Although I do like Once Upon A Time, I’m not too happy about them “villianizing” my childhood hero (or for making him a father for that matter).
Of course there is the Disney version of Peter Pan. The innocent boy only looking for adventure and fun with his group of lost boys to play with and pirates to outsmart and then finding himself a girl who can tell stories.
Then, Robin Williams became Peter Pan in the 1991 movie “Hook” where Peter was all grown up because he came back to Earth and had a family but has to return to Neverland with the help of Tink to save the island from those nasty pirates once again. This might be one of my favorite Robbin Williams movies of all time, or maybe it’s just the reason I love Robin Williams.
And all over social media, there are stories about the Peter Pan in Disneyland who finds girls who are victims of self-harm and he scolds the “rotten pirates” for the marks left on their arms. All the girls that Peter Pan has talked to have been motivated to stop harming themselves.
Because of the media, Peter Pan is an innocent boy, a hero in the 21st century, a villain in Storybrook, a grown up gone back to Neverland, and the Angel of Death.
But for me, Perter Pan will always be my childhood. He will always be one of the reasons I tell stories. He will always be the little boy I dreamed about coming to my window at night and taking me on an adventure. He will always be the reason season 3 of Once Upon a Time is my favorite (even though it’s not exactly how I wanted it to be). He will always bring a smile to my face when I think of the stories I’ve heard of him. He will always be the reason I first loved Robin WIlliams. Peter Pan will forever be the boy who never grows up.
And I’ll always keep my window open.