Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | January 27, 2007

Warning: Mush overload

THERE was a time years ago when I said that I was never going back to this place. Ever again. And yet here I am, sitting at the edge of memory looking at a site that evokes a feeling of warmth, familiarity and nostalgia but brings back the time-dulled throb of old wounds.

The old mango tree still stands in the open field, still looking like an oversized mushroom every time it is silhouetted against a sunset-red sky.

I approach it with equal parts of dread and anticipation. Once near, I test the rectangular blocks of wood nailed to its bark. They serve as a makeshift ladder leading to the old creaky treehouse nestled among the thigh-thick tangle of branches of the mango tree.

I start my climb.


Back in the summers past, the treehouse always served as a refuge of sorts. From the first heartbreak caused by a full-lipped, deep-eyed smart aleck in early grade school, from the incessant screaming that usually filled the old home, the one usually emanating from my parents’ bedroom, from the endless coming and going of people who never understood me and from life itself.

Here, where the floorboards creak at every step and where the wind seems to settle like an invited guest, is where it was always safe, always happy, always quiet.

But every child grows up. And they toss out the need for bare, ragged teddy bears, old, faded blankets or wooden sanctuaries perched above trees, 14 feet away from the real world.

Years ago, I stopped hiding in my treehouse, telling myself it was time to join humanity’s fight against the demons that haunt them.

And yet today, I am here again.

Yellowed photographs are still thumb-tacked to its walls. The graffiti has faded but you can still make out the declarations of love and of never-ending friendships on the shaky stools that do not look like they can still hold me. And there is a ring of dust around where I last left my cup of hot chocolate.

If you stick your ears to the plywood walls, you can still make out the remnants of old laughters.

On one of the ledges nailed to the wall, a folded piece of paper flutters underneath a rusty can filled with old childhood toys. The paper’s edges are worn out, it’s surface browned by the passage of time. But the writing in it, done in blue ink, is still readable.

I free it from the weight of its world and unfold it. I fumble for the lighter in my pocket, flip it open and thumb a flame. Somewhere between a smile and a sigh, the words written on the paper fetch images long buried in the gray graveyard of the mind—the final resting place for memories.

I read it out loud:

farewell flies on half a wing,
on half a prayer, softly, as if the air
palms it upwards. We count the seconds
we use to fill the spaces with,
between the sheets where we pull
the edges of ourselves into a curl of limbs.

there is laughter to be found here
somewhere among the monotony of tears
and fears as we untangle ourselves
from the hooked fingers
and knotted legs to break the dawn.
But it is a laughter in a hurry.

It takes the first flight out the window
on the other half of wing, other half of prayer.


I fold the paper and contemplate tucking it into one of the secret compartments of my wallet. I decide otherwise, and return it back to its old spot, where it will again flutter in the wind in its quest for freedom.

I sit in the middle of the treehouse, wrap my arms around my knees and bury my head in my lap. I swore never to return here. For all the warmth, the familiarity and the nostalgia it brings, for all the protection it provides, I hate the reasons that prod me to return to this childhood place.

Reasons that, through the years, never change. The need to feel safe. The need to get away from it all. The need, period.

Darkness has fallen.

I slowly fumble my way to the makeshift ladder and count my way down, 14 feet back to the real world. Somewhere in my descent, a pain with no name seizes me and it seems that I am floating downwards.

Floating, on half a wing, half a prayer.

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Responses

  1. i envy you. the treehouse. the scribbled prose on the yellowed, folded paper…but in you, i have found a comrade, a fellow victim of unnamed pain…which at times could be blinding…but on an afterthought, a needed stab of reality when things become surreal.
    cheers.

  2. Sigh…

    Kiko, get out of sports writing gerdemmet!

  3. If you stick your ears to the plywood walls, you can still make out the remnants of old laughters.

    dude you made the hairs at the back of my neck stand on one end. christ. (sniff)

  4. hmmm.. every child dreams of having a treehouse that’ll be his/her “refuge of sorts”, or so i think.. but not all of us got to have that..

    lucky you..

  5. Nie… and go where? The treehouse? Hehehehe. Belated dude!

    Kate… What is it in old laughters that never fails to make us smile?

    Barbs, Mitz… There is a line that, once crossed, turns hiding places from a sanctuary into a reason for cowardice.

  6. a sanctuary only becomes a reason for cowardice if one has not undergone catharses….=)


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