The old schoolyard is empty. So late in the afternoon the students have long gone home. But you’re not one of them and you haven’t been for quite a few years. The truth is that you’re not even sure why you came back. When you left, you forced yourself to turn a leaf and bury who you had been deep inside. Perhaps being here proves how miserably you failed.
You ignore the “yard of the old kids” and walk at the back. Nearly ten years later you can still recall every nook and cranny here as if it was only yesterday that you left, never to come back. You ignore the various games; it’s amazing how they still look the same, and approach one of the most important reasons for your return. It has hardly changed. Perhaps a bit taller, but still thin and the soil around it the same ochre-brown color. Now you know that it’s not a fir, though its name was never of any importance. In your mind it was and still is “grandpa”, one of your first real friends.
When the other children played with one another, you sat on its feet and listened to the stories it whispered. That was when you first the discovered the power of the Word, when all the other children were speaking their own tongue, a tongue you couldn’t understand but – much to the disturbance of the occasional teacher – you cared not to learn either. You were alone and you were happy.
Before you knew it you were one of the “old kids” but inside still the same. For your peers you are the strange one, the outcast, existing only to amuse with your difference. No one outrights says it but you hear their laugh and see their scorn in their eyes whenever you bother to look at them. You don’t care. You have new friends. Where they see plants, your eyes see houses and caves. A broken fountain is your cauldron and the leaves and seeds you gather like the birds do are the ingredients of your broth. You make plates out of leaves, keep your “home” orderly and sometimes you even find hidden treasures.
As you grow so does your thirst for stories. You read frenziedly, every minute you can spare is filled with the books you read or the stories you make. Everyone thinks that you are alone and cut-off from those that could be your friends, but in reality you have more true friends and guardians at your side than they would ever suspect.
The years flow and you remain happy, away from everyone. You see no reason to change and make the mistake to believe that the world around you is the same with your world. Arrogance it may be, but you were proud. While they grew up worrying over pointless things, you gathered stories and kept in your heart their teachings, like the gems you would later love.
But you forgot to pick up one of the most important; that of time. All of a sudden you are forced to change environment a year earlier than what you expected. Believing it to be the right thing you agree and found yourself in a new schoolyard. For the first time you could turn a new leaf, to write a new chapter in your book. Curiosity has always been your flaw and it would be a lie to claim that you never wonder about the other riverbank. So you tried to cross, disregarding everything that your friends had taught you.
It was naïve of you to think that years without any contact with those around you could simply be erased. You were trying to find a balance between two worlds, believing that the things you wanted and dreamed were around you, when you had never lost them. Reality hit you violently. You did not belong to the same world with the other kids – what did age matter?- They were mere kids to your eyes, they still are. You tried to go back. It was terrifying to realize that you did not belong there anymore. The balance was lost. For the first time you were truly alone and for the first time you were accepted.
A bird flies by and you come back to reality. You laugh at yourself. You always thought yourself more mature from those around you, more independent, but in reality you never changed. So afraid to grow up that you imprisoned yourself inside your own mind and now is the time to deal with the consequences. Now it’s the time to finally mature.
Even if you didn’t want to, you grew. Perhaps that mistake of yours was not so fatal after all. It may have taken time but balance has been restored. You belong to neither one world. You tied them together to something greater and that is the reason you came back today. To offer your gratitude to your fist true friend, the one that showed you the path you walk today, a path between true and untrue, reality and dream, amongst words and amongst worlds.