We have discussed many different forms of travel throughout the semester, and Wendt's "The Cross of Soot" illustrates one of the most basic and obvious forms of travel and that is simply through growing up, or through the process of ageing. What struck me most about this short story, and in life is young children's abilities to perceive things adults do not. There is often something lost when a person makes the transition from childhood to adulthood. Oftentimes, children can pick up on and perceive things that simply pass adults by. Wendt captures this in the character of the young boy. He seems to understand that there is something special about Tagi. But he even thinks of small things, "'How many have you counted Tagi?' 'Uh' said the stranger. 'I mean how many pieces of shit have you counted?' the boy said...suddenly the awkwardness was gone...'Oh about fifteen' replied the man"(15, 16). Not only did the boy know what Tagi was doing by drawing on his personal experience, he was not afraid to ask, and because of this he was able to break the tension. Children have this fearlessness about them that we lose, as is exemplified by the young boy's determination to get a tattoo though he was in extreme pain.
During the summers I live with my cousins. They are four little boys, the triplets are now twelve and the "baby" is six. It has been interesting to watch the twelve year olds grow up. They used to say whatever was on their minds to the point where it would often embarrass my aunt and uncle. They were willing to try anything. I live with them on a small island in the summer where there are only 300 residents. All the kids go to sailing school three days a week. When the triplets were younger they were always excited to embark on a new sailing adventure. They couldn't wait until they were able to sail a boat by themselves instead of with an instructor helping them. Now, they are self conscious at times, they don't want to sail in boats with people better than them and often question their own abilities. They are more afraid to take risks and are nervous about sailing. The six year old on the other hand, is exactly as they were just a few years prior.
This happens to all of us, the sense of fearlessness and freedom fades away. We change. We not longer have that certain "something" that children have that make them so observant, confidant, and unafraid. We worry about anything and everything and don't let our minds wander or imagine like we should. The triplets are about to turn thirteen. One of them said to me the other day "I don't want to turn thirteen. I want to stay a kid forever". Somehow he knows it will all change. His brothers can't wait and many kids are like that. But he recognizes that some time soon he will have to leave his childhood behind and that can be a scary thing. "He paused on the other side, and looked back as if he had forgotten something- as if he had crossed from one world to another, from one age to the next" (20). The boy left behind his youth, his fearlessness. That inherent quality you can never get back.