Caged Playgrounds

Caged Playgrounds

A raging river, which magnificently slices its way through the interior of this coastal province meanders through some forgotten valleys, once overrun by gold rush fever. Remnants of a forgotten era still litter the countryside to this day and out of the graves of yesterday’s busts are small communities striving to make sense of their present. My parents happened to haul their trailer up to one of these places from the abattoir down south and set up camp with some other gypsies on the bank of this great river.

By this time my father had hitched his wagon to the company and was now chasing the carrot dangling from the stick. Putting in his time, working his way up, larger and larger volume stores, more and more responsibilities, and longer and longer hours. It all meant something at the time but has only amounted to a glass full of regrets in the present.

For my brother and I, however, it meant a new town, new people, a new school, and a caged playground. Our gypsy camp came with this large playground that ran along the river bank and was bordered by what seemed at the time to be a ten foot high chain link fence. There were broken swings and teeter totters to play with but I was fascinated with the fence and the river. I would go up to the fence and stand there in classic prison poising, staring at the raging river just on the other side.

These early perspectives of life seemed to embed themselves deep in my psyche. Trapped, caged, always longing to break free from this fence that held me back. Thinking that I could swim that mighty river and make it to the other side. I would picture myself emerging victoriously on the far bank, soaked, cold, and tired but pulling myself to the top and standing tall I would look back to the others on this side of the bank. I would seem them standing there in awe at what I had just done and I would shout out to them, “I did it! I am free!” while waving my arms frantically. They would say, “What?” and stand there waiting for further explanation. Not realizing the futility of the situation I would once again attempt to share my amazing victory with them until it slowly sunk in that I share my glory with no-one. I would stand alone on that bank. Wet, tired, and hungry. But I would be happy and that was the only motivation I needed. I would learn to be okay with my loneliness because at least I was standing on the other side of the bank.

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