I’ve just arrived back home after a long walk back from the train station and I felt compelled to write about it. Just to clarify a few things, my home is roughly about a 10-15 minute walk downhill followed by a 30-45 minute walk uphill from the train station, so this something I try to avoid as the uphill part kills me (hence the short post on 30/01, but I’m writing this the same day... so I don’t have an excuse, except that I want to bank a blog piece for the weekend). Another thing I would like to clarify is that except for a short period of two years, I’ve lived in this house with my parents since 1988, so most of my childhood memories are firmly engrained within the area... as I’m about to write about.
I’ve just got finished a journey, one I have rarely attempted since I was in high school, walking from my grandparents back home. I visited my Gran after attending an orientation in the city, both as a break from the long journey but to say hello and keep her company now that my Grandad has passed away. By the time I left my Grandparents it had gone dark and a cooler breeze was blowing, a much better time to walk home this time of the year, and something I wouldn’t be allowed to do as a kid. I remember the way like the back of my hand, its path practically etched into memory so that the dark wouldn’t be an issue to navigate my way around.
At one point I came to my old primary school and it’s big ovals with steep ridges which I didn’t feel like climbing, especially after all the steep hills I’ve already walked up. I had a choice; Turn to Page 86 and Go Left (a longer walk but less steep), Turn to Page 27 and Go Right (towards the Shops which would have been closed else it probably would have been a no brainer to my 14 year old self), or Turn the Next Page and Go Over the Oval and Through the School. My feet and legs were telling me to turn left, my stomach was telling me to turn right, but I turned the page and went forward.
During the 90s I have walked this way hundreds and hundreds of times, and so much of that school has changed, but I still feel nostalgic whenever I walk near it. It kind of hit me the hardest seeing a piece of play equipment that was installed not long after I attended the school just old and worn, and brown due to the bore water discolouring it after so many years (much like parts of the school). It struck me hard seeing how the replacement slide looked exactly like the rest of the equipment even though it wasn’t part of the original set*. It’s also a sad sign of times that most of the school now is fenced off, although I’m still undecided if this is to keep them out or to keep them in. I still feel sad that the old wooden play set of my youth got torn down many years ago. Even as a teenager it was a fun place to hang out and chat with friends.
As I finally passed the school and started walking home, for the first time it really struck me just how ingrained the particular part of the journey was to me. Even though I spent roughly four years there, I walked back and forth down the same two roads every single time I was at that school, and always on the exact same side, both ways, and I still walk that way every single time. I reflected on just how much that area has changed in the last 20 years, particularly in the last decade where I have spent less and less time in the area, and yet I was practically walking on autopilot. As I was walking I suddenly realised something I never thought about at that time; a while back I had a dream wherein I was walking home from somewhere and it was the exact same path I was walking. All the houses surrounded me was different but similar enough to gain my baring, but the front garden of my house was ripped up like it was being renovated, so I pretty much turn around and walked away. I think the reason that dream remains so vivid was this familiarity got stuck in my head where all the rest of my dreams exist only in the ether. Oh and when I got home it was the way I left it.
* - The original slide was a shorter but wider set of rollers that looked terrifying, causing many school rumours about it eating students, or at least fingers getting trapped, which I think added to the fun when you finally got brave enough to try it. I honestly don’t know why it was removed but part of me still wants to believe the impossibly small enough gaps trapped someone’s arm one day like the devilish device that it was. It got replaced with a boring plastic yellow ‘safe’ slide and its appeal vanished immediately.