Once upon a time there was a girl who applied for a Fancy Thing. It was a prestigious, exclusive Fancy Thing and a very, very long shot.

Almost everyone she knew (who did the same Things) applied, too, and one by one all these talented, hard-working doers-of-Things found out they did Not get the Fancy Thing. This always happened, almost no one gets the Fancy Thing. But when the dust settled, the girl was somehow still in the running.

She tried not to think about it, just in case she jinxed it or spooked it or crushed its fragile bones with the weight of her hopes. It was, after all, a very, very long shot. And, one day after many weeks of trying not to think about it, she came home to a thin envelope and found out that she too did Not get the Fancy Thing.

Officially, she was one of a few who Almost got the Fancy Thing. Almost.

She was surprised to find that she had been holding a part of her breath. She had been clenching a small piece of hope so very close to her chest. And as her hand uncurled and the breath rattled back out, she was terrified by the chasm the hope had formed inside her.

And yes, she knew the Almost part was amazing and validating and such an honor, of course, but at the time it seemed to make the Not worse.

Like the click clack climb of a roller coaster.
Like Lucy with a football.
Like a witch fattening a German child with candy.

So the girl put the envelope and the letter inside on the bookshelf and set about filling the space in her head recently vacated by her fantasy of the Fancy Thing. She tried not to hear how deeply it echoed, or consider how foolish she had been to build it so tall.


My baby just turned a year old and she is Almost walking. She’s standing and balancing. She’s creeping along the furniture and chasing the dog in her big plastic walker, but she has Not walked. Not actually. Not yet.

Maybe it’s because she doesn’t know how close she is. She doesn’t realize that a slight shift in weight
and a little more confidence could propel her forward into a whole new state of locomotion. A new state of being, even. She is Almost a toddler.

We watch her, hanging on her every tilt and wobble. We hold our breath every time she lifts a foot. But, inevitably, she reconsiders, lowering herself to the floor and sensibly crawling to her next objective. One can’t help but be a little disappointed and a little relieved. She remains a baby, at least for now.

None of this seems to affect her. She is nonstop, popping up and steadying herself over and over. She pulls herself along and climbs onto chairs and boxes and bookshelves. She can get almost anywhere she wants to go even without walking, and she seems to want to go everywhere all the time.

In rare moments of stillness, I am transfixed by her transformation. When she was born, she was long and spindly. She was strangely amphibian, with her toes outstretched and limbs folded together. The months have made her round and sturdy. She stands so easily, so confidently, unaware of how far she has come from the little pile of arms and legs she was.

But I see it, having seen her every day of her life. Although, I am scared to admit, it’s hard to really remember how small she once was. My heart is so full of this joyful, curious creature pulling herself up over and over again. She is tireless, limitless, and far too busy scaling the furniture and putting things in her mouth to worry about walking. I suspect she could if she really tried, but for some ineffable reason the time is simply Not right. Not now. Not yet.

Across the room, I see her pause. She carefully sets her feet, and using the strength of her round, sturdy legs, she pushes herself as high as she can go. She stands, suspended in this state of Almost, and all I can see is her power and potential. All I can do is give her the chance to keep moving.


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