On January 1st, I had the pleasure of meeting up with two of my closest childhood friends called Faye and Adhvik. My fondest memories of being younger was spent with them: exploring and adventuring with wild and wonderful stories every step of the way.
We were brought up in a suburbia that’s surrounded by forestry, so we spent hours upon hours running through the woods till our lungs breathed fire and our hearts pounded faster than we even thought possible. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way. We were part of a much bigger group of kids, and as you’d imagine, the group grew and changed as kids moved houses and new kids moved to the estates. But the three of us never left, not until everyone else was already gone.
One thing growing up in the estate taught me was perspective. The forests were so much bigger to me when I was younger. I felt as though I could disappear into them and not come back if I wanted. Like I could be among the trees and the riverbanks and live only in the stories told between ourselves during those summer nights. But now, visiting again when I’m 21 as opposed to 12, I see everything differently.
I see how my eyes can scan almost every edge of the wilds from the houses. How what I thought once was mysterious and dangerous and secretive actually was close, protective and safe. The treeline no longer menacing, but comforting.
I used to go to bed every night after the days out among the branches with my mind running wild. I’d weave tales of ghosts: of spirits among the woods and lives lost to tragedy, to lost love and to heartbreak. And then I’d go out the next day and learn more and more from my friends and experiences that the stories would grow alongside me each night. It was naivety’s paradise.
So returning there was packed full of nostalgia. The estate itself has already changed, with gates built where once it was empty. And bark paths sown into the ground where once it was overflowing with life.
We climbed gates, we trod the paths and we made our way back to our hiding places. Little spots: nooks and crannies among nature that we’d nicknamed. That we’d made into places. Some names that we have, for example, were: The Cliff, The Climb-down Tree (a tree which separated two plots of land that are on different elevations, so we used it to get from one to the other. This tree is next to the cliff, so instead of leaping off the cliff to reach the land – which, believe me, we did do, but only during summer when the grass was long enough to cushion our landing – we could use this tree as a means of transport instead) and The Bush.
I came away from our reunion with my mind running like it had all those years ago. Desperate to tell stories. Desperate to intertwine characters and events into this place that taught me so much about myself and life. And who knows, perhaps if I’m lucky enough, I’ll get to put those ideas down onto paper and create something from them. Maybe then it’d do justice to such a magical childhood.
From the boy who wanted to stay among the trees,