There are many vivid imprints in my mind from days long gone. These beautiful memories live within me and define my childhood. As I go through my day, fulfilling one obligation after another, running from one commitment to the next, sometimes I wish I could just for a moment close my eyes, travel back in time and instantly be there again – the red slide that spiraled for days, the raised stage that I had to jump really high to see past, the zoo only minutes from my home, the convenience store that catered to my sweet tooth, the sprinkler I skinned my knee on, and on it goes.
Years ago, I had a chance to go back to visit my homeland, a place I left 26 years ago but still consider a home of sorts. Nothing prepares you for the feeling you get when you embark on your journey to the past – the nostalgia, the longing, the reminiscent this used to be my playground.
One of the first places I went to visit was the neighbourhood I grew up in, the heart of my childhood memories. The pillars that were once my favourite hiding spot, now surely gave me away. The staircase that tired me out was no more than two flights of stairs. The park was not so massive, the street not quite as noisy, and the buildings not very tall. Had the neighbourhood always been this small?
Perhaps one of the biggest shocks for me was to discover that a slope I spend
hours sliding down, was in reality, only as high as my knee. That struck me most because it forced a shift in my mind; the world I lived in as a child was, just that – my world. Surely my parents didn’t see things the same way. To any adult, that ‘hill’ was nothing more than a concrete ramp. The red slide barely made a turn. The raised stage was merely a step. The zoo – what zoo? It was more of a petting farm. Regardless of the misconceptions, these memories are valid, because they are mine. I will always take them with me; they are my happy place, if you will.
Now, sitting at the park watching my own children play, I wonder what they will take with them into their adult years. What will they long for when life takes them on the fast lane? What imprints will define their childhood? Will the blue slides they run up and down on mean anything? Will they remember the big rock off to the side that served as a lookout? Will they miss the weekend mornings jumping on mommy’s bed? Will they crave granny’s cooking? Will they look at the climbers and see-saws and think, this used to be my playground.