I was always one of those naughty kids who would run off from their parents every chance they took to go play a game in the woods, or any place that I could pretend were woods. I’d run, climb on rocks and trees. Sit in the dirt, in awe of the little plants growing and come up with a story of how everything came to be, there. As I would play, the story would weave into present tense. Like some strange version of Bridge to Tarabithia mixed with all kinds of things. Usually I’d be a Native American and attempt to make a shelter for myself as though I planned on living there. Because, in the game I did live there. I lived there, ruled a kingdom there and gathered food there. There, I was free.
Today, in class, we went on a trip to our school’s butterfly garden. Part way through the class we were given a ‘ten minute’ break…. so naturally, I took off down a strange path off the side of the trail/ road that I thought I’d seen. Turns out it turned into a trail after all, so I continued to follow it, extremely pleased with myself I sat down on the bank of rocks by a dried out creek. I picked up a rock and began to wonder. Why was the creek dried out? Had it been the summer and lack of water that cleared it? I threw the stone. What if… my mind began to spiral and stories of my youth flooded back to me. I toyed with the zipper on my boot as I recollected old tales, I could hear the soundtrack to Narnia playing in my imagination and I hung my head. What had happened to me? Why did I grow up? I sat there in longing. I missed being a kid. I missed being queen of the sea, explorer of the forest, tamer of wolves. I realized how unready I felt to be a grown-up. and the promise to always be a kid and never stop pretending I’d made to myself when I was much younger. My heart ached. What I would give to play and run in the woods again, what I would give to be carefree and play like I once did, again.
As I made my way back to the rest of the class, I promised myself I’d be back. This journey wasn’t over yet… and even though I may be in college now, it didn’t mean I had to grow up. I could still tell stories of what’d happened in those woods to anyone who wanted to hear.