This week’s discover challenge: Finding Your Place
During this summer, my boyfriend and I visited our old elementary and middle schools together at night to look at and take photos of stars.
I probably haven’t visited my elementary school since eighth grade (that’d be around nine years ago). We didn’t go inside the building, and everything looked different because it was night time, but I recognized the place so clearly. It looked and felt exactly the same, but also so different. The moment I stepped foot out of the car, I remembered all these things that I thought I would have forgotten by now.
I want to share a lot of my memories about my elementary school because it is a place and a period of my life that I truly enjoyed, but I feel like there’s no point because you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
You don’t recognize the little gravel walkway to the kindergarten classrooms like I do. You don’t have the memories of experiencing your first winter in Vancouver, seeing real snow for the first time, and having Mrs. Smith bundle you up in all the snow gear your mother made you wear, only to hear the bell ring for the end of recess by the time you are ready to go out.
You don’t remember that day when a bear visited us from the forest behind us (before fences got built). You weren’t one of my classmates who rushed to the windows together to touch its nose as it poked through one of our open windows with my teacher yelling at us in the background.
You don’t know that there used to be a little parking spot left by other parents just for my little sister to pick me up in our battery-powered Barbie jeep. You didn’t hate the new principal we got in fifth grade, simply because she wasn’t our beloved old principal. You weren’t a part of the Christmas concerts I was in. You didn’t stand next to me when I sang in the choir, or acted in the school play, or played piano at the annual talent show. You didn’t collect berries with me, or paint your nails with me under the slide. We never played hopscotch, skipping rope, or handshake games together under cover when it rained. You didn’t see the drawings I made that were proudly presented in the main hallway for all to see. We didn’t celebrate when there was news of a new playground being built.
Elementary school was fun. It was a place where I made my first friends, wrote my name for the first time by myself, and learned how to read. There were moments of pure joy: hot lunch days! Field trips! Grounders and freeze tag! Snowball fight! The TV is rolling in… BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL!
These were all the things that floated in my mind as I explored a place that used to be my every day for five years, but by the time we found a flat place to set up, a sad realization hit me: I had already walked around the whole place. Everything is so small. It didn’t used to be.
The soccer field used to be huge. The monkey bars were high up in the sky. Walking from the kindergarten classrooms to the fifth grade area was one long journey. The forest used to be dense, but now it looked scanty and empty. The big hill that was thrilling to run or sled down was nothing but an average slope to me now. Everything around me seemed to have lost its magic.
And I knew (obviously) that nothing had actually changed. The soccer field, hill, forest… everything is the same size as it was twelve years ago. I was just much smaller at the time so everything seemed bigger and more exciting.
And I also knew that it’s not that this place lost its magic. It’s probably still a magical place for many children, just not for me.
Because it’s not my place anymore.
P.S. Mitchel, if you happen to be reading this, I’ll never forget that you brought a stuffed bunny to our kindergarten teddy bear picnic.