It was a rare treat to go to Elm Street and climb on the rope net. We played tag and pretended it was a ship and we were pirates. Don’t touch the ground. It was water you know. There were sharks. I always liked the park, but I am not sure if it was because it was a delicacy. When I think of parks in Washington Court House, I think Eyman. The fact that there was ponds, a pool, and several more slides and toys drew me there. I just didn’t want you to think I forgot you. The rope burns were plenty, the splinters the same.
You did have a stigma though. There were rumors about a girl named Simone that sacrificed animals and drank people’s blood back in the woods. She was supposed to be a Satanist, but it was probably propaganda so people wouldn’t disturb your slumber. Or maybe it was something grade schoolers talked about, because in those days we had an imagination. We didn’t sacrifice it all to video games. Sure we had them, but they were for rainy days and when it got to dark to play outside. We didn’t wrap all our attention around them; for we were far too busy exploring this town.
It’s sad that kids stay indoors these days. It’s sad that the boogey man has won. There have been bad people my whole life, but they stayed away from us because we traveled in a pack. We pretended to fly over a small gooseberry patch. We created clubs and played hide and seek. We slept outside in tents in our back yards, sometimes front.
I’ll let my kids come to you soon. I’ll let them feel what I felt. I’ll let you envelop them, hoping that they will find the same mystique that I did. I hope they can sail the high seas, I hope they find their own stories to share when they are 32. Imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have. I still use mine when I get the chance. I won’t give it up. It’s my link to Neverland. It’s my link to my childhood.
As I keep churning these paragraphs out, I hope you enjoy them. I’m not writing them for you though, they are my memories. They are things that I have felt, things that I never want to forget. I am posting them here because we might share the same feelings about things like this old park. Maybe you were the captain and I was scrubbing the poop deck. Maybe we played together multiple times, but I never knew your name. We were just two kids playing, names weren’t necessary. Besides, Gary the pirate isn’t a very tough name. Neither is Captain Stevey or first mate Shannon. We were kids in the greatest town we knew. We had it all in this little city. It’s still there, if we give ourselves the chance to play.
Get outside, while the air is still fresh. Climb the trees you used to climb. Have an adventure. It’s good for the soul. If you make it to the park, don’t let the sharks get you. Stay out of the water. Play.