Set to the tempo of pictures taken while biking out to the old castle a few kilometers from where I live. That’s right. Castles just lay around here, broken toys of baby Europe who’s all grown up and playing with bombs and taxes now.
Boys were always ready for adventure games. Like, let’s go kick ass and be pirates, or knights, or pirate knights in space, and I’m a robber and you’re cowboy unless you want to play angels and demons today BEFORE it becomes a bestseller, and let’s be honest, our version will be way better and we don’t even have Tom Hanks.
I knew some girls who liked adventure games too and they were awesome, but after a certain age they were like, “Makeup!” and I was like “D&D!” but we had different life paths, and that was fine.
I remember how me and some other girls and boys played the best stuff in the woods ever and we caught crawdads, dude. And even the girls were boys then. Crawdads, for no reason, and we built houselike things in the woods.
Everything had this specialness to it, this amazing one-thing-ness, special sticks and magic trees.
And sometimes I still feel it, alone in the woods or with people who have a sense of fun. It’s in the air.
Every little stream was a river and every day was a year long.
I used to come home with my pockets full of rocks that were each extremely important and special. I had a zebra rock I used to love. I don’t know where it went; maybe it’s still in the shadowbox from my old room. I had a mica rock, and I saved the shell from an oyster I ate because of the shining mother-of-pearl. And there were magic leaves and special kinds of feathers you could see if you looked hard enough in the right places.
We made bows and arrows that sometimes worked, and the day I got a pocket knife was like being handed a magic wand.
I could make anything pointy.
Sticks became spears and arrows and ritual daggers and magic wands in the blink of an eye.
I collected herbs and had a Golden Book Herb Guide from the 60s that I used to identify more or less correctly everything I needed to assemble my Sorceress’s ingredients. I had a spellbook that I had painted the covers of and doodled in and wrote recipes in, very factual useful stuff like healing salves with helpful ballpoint pen illustrations, and I re-enacted adventure scenes from my favorite books and video games all by myself.
I convinced my friend to wait with me under a tree for EVER for a unicorn to appear, but I can’t remember actually feeling disappointed that it didn’t come. As I explained to my friend, we were sitting under a sweetgum tree. You’re supposed to sit under apple trees. It looks like unicorns are pretty serious about their rules.
And you know, I’m happy to have all of that still.
The kid is the fundamental human. The kid will find adventures and treasures no matter what is going on, no matter who is telling them what, no matter how much money is there or how many other kids are doing all that with it. The kid is what, in the end, keeps you alive. It brings you to the top when you’re at your best, and pulls you out of the water when you’re not. You can’t lose it; you just lose track of it for a while. But your kid self is always there.