I found my hideaway by chance when I was about 14 years old. I had gone for a meandering walk. I followed the pathways that wound through my neighbourhood. Past my elementary school and around the yards and playgrounds I played in so much when I was tiny.
I remember it was a beautiful autumn day. The air was icy crisp. The grass golden with a few stalwart strands of green still managing to thrive. The ice rink hadn’t been filled yet, leaving a smooth black tarmac for ball hockey and skateboarding. None of the kids who frequented it in the summer bothered to play that autumn day.
It was peaceful.
Some covered benches had been built near the entrance to the rink. I hadn’t seen them before. The appeal of solitude and my own curiosity called to me. I walked through the dry grass to the shelters. Sat in the corner.
I remained there longer than I intended, letting my mind get lost in thought and imagination.
I returned here many times until I moved away from home when I was 21 — to think, to imagine, to dream. It was always my most private space, oddly empty every time I went for a place of play.