The haunting schoolyard

I’ve had recurring dreams about school, schoolmates and former friends – generally about people from primary school to secondary school.

Having looked up pages on dream interpretations, I learned that I’m unhappy with something in my life, so my subconscious dwells in the past; how interesting! Picturing school, I think about times where decisions had room to wait. One had time to discover the early joys of life and its simplicity.

Sort of.

Well, I’m not sure if I really want to revisit that period of my past.

I wouldn’t say my childhood in school was great – on the contrary, school was dreadful. Starting from kindergarten. I remember counting the days of each of the 10 years of school and how tired I became from biting my way through it. I would never want to go back again and stand outside in the schoolyard on my own.

On a regular day at primary school, you had four to five lessons at 45 minutes each. After the first lesson, you had five to ten minutes before the next class began. Once that class was over, you’d get a longer break at 20 minutes, where kids had to go outside. Apparently, fresh air was mandatory. (Suppose in North America, they call it recess.) I used to stand outside right next to the door to make sure I was the first to get back inside when the break was over. I wasn’t fond of those breaks and cursed them as a waste of time. I remember freezing in those oversized winter coats that mum made me wear.

 

Now I’m here in the schoolyard to re-visit. I just noticed how small the schoolyard actually is and how I’d never taken advantage of any of the playground equipment. I used to love the big slide built on a big hill of sand and tyres. I think I’ve only been on the slide once on a non-school day where no one but my family was watching. Sometimes I would hide behind the bushes, but I would leave right away as soon as other kids spotted me. The bushes are no longer there. Who knows, maybe kids have been kidnapped or accepted too much candy from strangers.

The birches in the centre of the schoolyard have grown a little just like me, and yet they still look young. There used to be wooden benches built around each birch, forming a square on which the kids could sit and play tag. I used to play with them for a little while until they stopped asking me to join them. And I was back at the door.

I hardly ever ate lunch at school, either, hence the breaks being a waste of time for me. I usually wouldn’t eat till I got home. Sometimes my mum would make me half a sandwich, which I would hide in one of my jacket sleeves during the break. I would take a bite when no one was looking. I would watch the other kids play and imagine I was one of them, lively and laughing out loud. I don’t know why I was so pathetic.

Even in my dreams, I was merely observing my former classmates. I wasn’t involved in any of the activities or conversations. I was standing far away in the corner like an unnoticed statue. Or maybe I travelled back in time.

I also dreamed about my first real friends at school. (I began opening up a lot more in the late years of secondary school and made valuable friends.) For some strange reason, I was merely observing them in my dream as well. Besides, they appeared further away than anyone, like I was stalking them through binoculars. I was on the balcony at home while they were all downstairs at the car park waiting (for me?). I thought they were waiting for me to come down, so I rushed to the bathroom to get ready and then double-checked on the balcony again only to find out that they’d already left.

I didn’t understand. Why wouldn’t they wait? I’ll probably never know if I don’t get in touch.

In reality, nothing has changed, except for my perception. Maybe I only came to see if the schoolyard remembers me. And it does. Good friends always remember.


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