Archive for September 30th, 2008

A couple of Sundays ago, I passed through the yard of my old elementary school. Contrary to what people usually say about a childhood locale, it didn’t seem small. Rather, it seemed mundane compared to the occasional dream I have set there. At the same time, it seemed full of memories.

In fact, I could hardly walk two meters without some memory ambushing me. As I entered, I passed the tame woods where I used to play endless game of tag with the other boys, and the creek where I caught tadpoles that I watched grow into tiny frogs. Beyond them were the houses of various girls I used to know, including the one to which I delivered the local weekly paper, much to my embarrassment. I was always afraid that the girl in my class would answer the door.

There was the place where a girl scolded me for standing with one foot at right angles to the other one and on top it; as a member of the graduating class, I should set a better example, she said. A little further on was where the teeter-totters used to be where we played still more games of tag; the teeter-totters are long gone, of course, replaced by supposedly safer playground equipment.

Having a moment to spare, I decided to wind around the school before continuing on my way. I passed my Grade Three class room, then up the short hill where I once banged my knee so hard that the fluid had to be drained off it. I passed by the barred gate that, in my day, was closed only in the summer holidays, and passed the gym, where intramurals games, and school fairs and assemblies used to be held. Beyond that was what had been the science class room and the library where I first discovered my love of reading.

Doubling back, I passed the covered area that was once the scene of endless games of road hockey. The grassy enclosure where we used to play massive games of British bulldog and Red Rover was gone, but I could see where it had been. And below that was the grass bank where my crowd used to lounge with their bicycles and gossip about who had a crush on whom, with everybody giving everyone else bad advice about how to make the boy or girl they admired notice them.

And so it went, every step of the way. The place where I used to wait for my first crush to arrive at school, my Grade One and Two class rooms, the playing field where I had won track events and scored goals in soccer, the baseball diamond where boys and girls used to play endless games of two up all summer – but, by this point, the memories were coming so fast that I was glad to leave the school grounds and continue walking to my destination.

The experience was novel, but I don’t expect I’ll be back in a hurry. I don’t live much in the past, and nostalgia is far too giddy an emotion – at least when it comes in such concentrated form – to indulge in very often.

Read Full Post »