The Lonely Industry
In the heart of the suburbs stood the playground of dreams: a monolithic wooden castle, a stronghold for make-believe. We could spend hours in the castle, chasing each other through the labyrinth, working up the courage for tall slides, swinging from the monkey bars. To jump back into the minivan, breathless, was a great joy.
For quiet children, though, the best joys are those which speak softly. Behind the wooden fortress stood a ring of trees, with a sorrowful field beyond. Surely it was a small scruff of nature, but at the time, this secret hideaway felt limitless. Here was my sprawling woods. Here was my prairie, rough and wild (nevermind half of it was a drainage basin).
The bunches of leaves and pine-needle carpeting muffled the castle’s joyful shrieks, such that a little girl could pretend to be far away. As a pioneer, she could touch the edge of a place as it was thousands of years ago. By virtue of one clump of trees, or a tuft of weeds, she could throw her spirit around to all the Earth’s forests and plains. Her tether was many miles long, but delicate — to melt into the universe is to peer carefully through peripherals. Focus too hard in one direction, and all you are is a kid standing alone in the trees, wanting.