When I was a child, I would play outside for hours. As soon as I discovered music, those hours turned even more magical, and I would stay outside to climb and swing and slide and hide and seek and dig and plant and create sandbox cities, all with my headphones on, the music accompanying my solo expeditions, my vintage villages, my horse and carriage rides with my baby brother in tow.
There was onion soup
These Other Worlds I created, these places I believed in, I thought, belonged to me as an escape, as a place I could invite or not invite my friends, a realm I could steal away to with or without my brother, unless he needed to come along.
I thought only kids like me need places like this. I thought only kids like me had Worlds their parents didn't know about, and, for that matter, that their parents couldn't even see.
I know now that this is not true.
Now, all these years later, I sit atop the slide, under the canopy, up in the Fort that belongs to my children, and instantly my World looks different. I sit here in this fort where chalk letters spell words from a language I didn't know existed and two empty Capri Suns lay in perfect abandonment, each straw askew in a way that tells me whoever drank it must have been thirsty.
I settle back into the corner, find a perfectly sharpened twig, tear down a quarter-sized cobweb mansion and notice, for the first time, that I can see four and a half backyards from this Fort and how cool is that because no one can see me.
The chatter of my children clamoring for their father's attention climbs up the slide in the wrong direction and I realize I am too busy thinking about stuff to make out what they are saying but they are sanding and hammering an amazing wooden bridge built just for walking from the deck, past the pool, and out into the vastness of our yard, so I close my eyes, but not completely, because my eyelashes are dancing on the sprays of orange and yellow of the Sun as it burns through the treetops.
The Sun has never been Closer. The treetops have never seemed so far away.
Up here the trees are tall, walking soldiers. The clouds are marshmallow fluff swirling in blue raspberry milk and the Sun is the Keeper of my secrets, the Protector of my Minions, the Warmer of my World.
I turn my head, peak through the wooden slats at the world below, into a faded blue bucket filled with deep, dark earth that couldn't have possibly come from back here ,for it has been hot and dry and the dust between the blades of grass dance chocolate swirls from the kick of a sneaker toe.
What's in that bucket? I wonder silently and then not so silently but my voice is high up in the treetops, past the cumulus nimbus clouds up a thick green vine where giants live with friendly wives and delicious cakes and so before they can even hear me I realize one of them is looking for me.
Up the slide he climbs in the wrong direction, his bare feet grasping on like monkey's hands, the squeal of his skin a delight to him, and I think to myself oh this little guy can't help himself he just needs to come find me to give me a smooch and instantly I return from my fantasy world, my reprieve from the shit that can be Life sometimes, to get a kiss from my four year old boy barefoot and sticky and smelling of pools and tubes and fresh dirt and sawdust, of watermelon slices and souring soft serve vanilla.
This boy does not want a kiss. His eyes are wild, darting, thoughtful. This boy has something on his mind, and it seems pretty serious.
This boy who has been out here playing for hours and hours with his big brother and sister, this boy wants to know where his soup is.
You know, Mom, the soup that's in the blue bucket, with onions in it? I need it. For my Mother. She is starving.
Across the yard in a hazy fog of yellows and greens I see my daughter's silhouette in the window of the playhouse in the yard, gazing out at the World, ear buds in her ears, starving.
I had that bucket Mom did you see it? Do you know the blue bucket I mean like this you carry it like with a wope and the color is...hmmm... the color is blue, Mom. Do you know that bucket Mom?
Yes, I know.
I know it well. ~
It's funny how Life just comes full circle, isn't it?
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