by ELIZABETH ENDERLE - September 12, 2019
I walk to the old school playground where we used to spend recess when it didn’t rain or wasn’t too cold. Remarkably, everything is the same. It’s a twisting, winding jungle gym that is the stuff of kids’ fantasies: slides, rock walls, ziplines, monkey bars. As I meander through the metal beams and plastic steps, I try to remember all I can of a time not too long ago. I remember when we said the ground was lava, yet it was the dark blue plastic slides that truly burned our legs as we slid down them. I remember getting scolded for playing “Lucky Hobo” and “Banana Boat” on the swings. I remember playing survival in the cold winter time, huddled under the platform of the big curving slide, gathering the dead winter grass as if it were rations. I remember running, playing tag, and asking how to run faster, take bigger steps.
As I turn the corner, something startles me. A dot of orange amidst the blue. It’s a moth, mimicking the markings of a monarch butterfly, sitting on a straight blue slide. It flutters its wings a moment before shyly closing them.
I continue to walk around the playset, and in a moment, I turn and view its orange shine open once more. As if it feels my eyes upon its lustre, the moth conceals its glimmer. I blink, and in a moment, it takes flight, flitting by me as if it were teasing me.
I walk back towards the car.
The memories of that place seem distant. Like photographs rather than film. I don’t remember the way I felt or the dreams I dreamt or even the classmates I called friends.
As I walk the halls of high school, I know one day, this will be my playground.
And a few favorite memories will come to mind. A corner of a hallway, a doorway of a classroom, a window at the landing of the stairs will remind me of everyone I knew and everything I did.
But I’ll forget so much. Already there are days that have passed into oblivion, epiphanies that have been long disregarded, feelings that I will not realize I felt and if I do realize I felt them, I surely won’t remember why.
Will I remember, as I walked, who walked with me?
Will those who walked with me remember me?
Or, worse, will nothing remain of our journey, no playground marking that sacred ground on which we ended our childhoods and began life anew and apart?
Perhaps a monarch will appear, its tangerine petals glistening in the sun, echoing the something that happened here, if only we could remember what it was.
And in the next instant, the butterfly shyly closes its wings and flies off forever.