Nothing haunts us as maddeningly and painfully like beautiful, sweet memories.
Like staring at the rickety, old see-saw, wood worn from countless years of play and getting soaked in the rain— and for a moment, children and childhood friends (or what seems to be a spectre of your shared past) intrudes your reality, and you find yourself back to that moment, half-remembering and half-imagining what was and what should have been timeless, ageless, unchangeable.
And one can’t help but ask why, rhetorically: an empty enquiry that’s more of resentful frustration than a sincere sense of indignity, answers we know too well but wish were not so. So we keep staring and reliving the past, a past where the rusted hinges were still strong enough to hold our weight, slightly-fading mental photographs buried under the burden of half-burnt love letters and broken toys and promises. A past that was too soon gone, too quickly forgotten, too much for albums and journals to protect and preserve beyond the time’s uncaring march.
The only thing that hasn’t changed was time: time that only mattered as we were about to part ways. Time that runs around laughing with us, watching the sunsets, watching the distant fireworks of dying stars from across the lightyears, watching as everyone age and learn that there are stars inside us too— oft trapped as they glisten inside our tears, or glimpsed as we cast hasty, shy yet meaningful glances at each other; stars dying but struggling to stay bright even when the dark clouds hide us in the night, when the sky is crying to an unfeeling world, stars seemingly unchanging, but only because we can never stay long enough to notice, to bother, to care, to wonder, to even sense their fading light.
Still, the grass grows again where little feet have crushed them during the summers. Children move on and find new things to entertain them— but never growing too far from who they are, discovering new dimensions and new realities behind the joys of enjoying the playground’s swing pointlessly— laughing at the absurd fun of it; conquering childish fears through slides and heartaches, only to find that at the end of each day, or when the guards shoos you goodnight, the playground was nothing but a trivial memory.
Yet like all things childlike, it made us who we are, what we are: growing children, who heal from reckless play and accidents, smiling children who appreciates a place or a memory to belong. And soon, we all leave that happy place for others to enjoy someday… if only to realize that life is a bigger playground, a place to understand why time and memories matter before go home tonight.