The Children We Were
Somehow, I remember the children we were. There were days so hot we thought we’d melt, so we’d have watered down lemonade on the swings. You were a child when you said I couldn’t play with you, but I was a child when I thought my imagination could out-wit all of you.
Nevertheless we played and played out on swings and slides, in the fields and maybe we’d even play in the sky. Oh, we thought we were higher than the sky. Yet in years to come, I’d see you higher still.
Field day by the pine tree was where we’d play. Boys were gross then and we thought there was no such thing as money or greed. Could we share everything? Sometimes we’d go to vividly colored amusement parks and be glad there were no bright lights in the hallway where everything smelled like chalk and new watercolor paints.
I cried the day I had to leave elementary school, did you know?
Then we became afraid of the failures to come. When we were afraid we’d make forts like the ones with trees in the woods. I wrote stories about those forts—oh, I still remember every single one of them. So, we didn’t know that forts were protective, but protection they still are, even as they sit in our hearts protecting the secrets we never imagined at first.
So I found the pond where the trees weren’t brown but grey—I’ll tell you again and again that I saw two reflections every day. Sometimes those images were alive with dreams and sometimes with devastating nightmares. I think we could survive these in storybooks but others we have yet to discover.
But yet, at the pond where the boards would creak and we would look for frogs, that was where stories started and where dances of reality played in the mirror-waters. These were the places that embodied the nature of April and the Midwest rains.
Literacy and fluency dance and sing and they move the sea and the land, did you know?
I became something different by day and by night—or so I thought. Worlds were filled with words from the tile floors and glass hallways when those girls—I thought they were my friends—they would laugh and laugh. I stopped riding the bus and dreamed of the water. I stopped making up fantasies and made them tangible instead. I wrote pages and I danced through sentences.
Now the stories and fantasies are fragments and images—maybe they’re particles and they’ll never fit again—but nonetheless I just see sunshine and I see attempts to hide all those forts protecting every crevice of my heart.
I used to think that ice water could cure everything. I skinned my knee on the gravel driveway and lost count of how many times I sprained my ankles. I stressed out about summer jobs so I started making my ice water with mint and lemon because it could cure all the worries and stresses with just a few extra vitamins.
I was just a child looking for someone to hold me, did you know?
In the summer heat and our buttoned up shirts, we let the bonfire smother. Fireworks were worth more than seeing the dew the next morning. The trees were so tall there and I dream every night of the dining halls and the lights in the rainy nights where flashlights were the only safeguards against the night.
This was a place where I fit and every lost fragment and particle reclaimed the days people said “you can’t play,” into memories of my friends and when they comforted me saying “it’s okay, you’re okay.”
Eventually, the summers collected themselves into pictures we’d rarely see and people we’d never leave. Now those summers remind me of rainstorms that made the trees darker and the days brighter and brighter. Those were the summers that I thought the world was infinite.
Somewhere in the future, we’re looking back on this moment and every moment into infinity and realizing just how beautiful it all is.