I miss the days of childhood imagination. When everything was something else. When my friends and I could be whoever we wanted to be. Do whatever we wanted to do. When we left behind the dirt and grime of our city streets and turned hallways into modeling studios and staircases into lofts. When red pavement was a fiery pit and a handle bar was a balance beam. I was always the one to imagine the story, to set the scene and direct the flow of things. I miss those days of childhood games.
Journey – Creating obstacles in our courtyard. Climbing mountains and passing sharks and volcanoes based on our speed.
Suicide – Throwing a ball high up against a wall and catching the ball or making it to the wall before someone pegged us in the ass. Get hit three times? Bend over and take an allotted number of pegs to your back, lol.
Cat and Mouse – Jumping in and out of a double dutch rope while someone repeats your jumps and tries to get you before you jump back in.
Models Inc – Standing in the oversized windows of our building, posing for an imaginary camera, pretending we had glamour, money and love.
Escape – Hiding and running anywhere in a ten block radius of our neighborhood. Sometimes, this spread all the way to Oval Park.
Rollerblading all the way to Bainbridge, up to Jerome Ave and back down the long winding streets of Gun Hill Road.
Watching the boys play football in the street between speeding cars.
Standing beside the prettiest car on the block, pretending it was ours, that it could take us anywhere.
No one will understand the specifics of this except the people who grew up on Gun Hill Road with me. But we all have that imaginary flare that kept our childhood somewhat interesting. The games we played and the minds that blossomed despite the chaos that lived in our homes…in our hearts. Washed away were the drug dealers on the corner, the crack addicts swarming the streets after the sun went down, the sounds of gun shots or angry screams. Washed away was the reality of our circumstance. Because for that short while, we had freedom. We had everything we ever wanted. And things we didn’t know we needed. We had choice. We had power. We had the world.
I think it’s funny…ironic…that the three main games we played as kids took on such names…
Suicide. Escape. Journey.
Weren’t we crying out for what we wanted all along? To get away. By any means necessary. For some – we made it. For others – circumstance got the best of us. My thoughts go out to the recipients of both conclusions. Out of sight is not out of mind. I don’t know if I’ll teach my son any of these games. But if I do…I’ll be sure to change the names.