In a previous blog post about a certain donut from my childhood, I made the following observation:
Everything is a lot larger back then compared to now (that's what she said?)
Last weekend, I managed to do something else that proved this claim: I walked through my old primary school.
My family moved around New Zealand a bunch when I was younger, so this primary school / grade school / whatever-the-hell-you-call-the-educational-institute-you've-been-enrolled-in-at-the-age-of-9, was the second-to-last primary school of mine before I moved on up to intermediate. Anyway, when I was there, I really liked the place: I made a lot of friends, the teachers were nice, and there was a lot more tree-climbing variety here than my previous school (which only had really tall trees and a policy of cutting-off the lower branches so that adventurous children like myself would be discouraged from trying to scale them). The neighbourhood and life in general around that time was really good too, so a lot of stuff from then, including the school, really stuck in my mind.
I also injured myself a lot on the school grounds that year (a remark from one of my teachers at the time in a student evaluation form: Emanuel needs to learn to control his movements more) and so made several trips to the sick/medical bay from wherever it was I happened to get injured. So I became very familiar with the distances that needed to be travelled from all corners of the school. Sometimes, a blood trail would be involved, and once I got patched-up, I would follow the the blood trail back to where it was I got hurt, familiarising myself with the distance I walked (or more likely rushed in a mild panic).
So, on the way to a BBQ which was very close to my old school, I decided to take a small detour and visit the playgrounds, buildings, and trees that composed much of my life at 9 years of age.
The first hurdle was trying to actually get into the school as the entrance that I had used all those years before was now blocked-off by recent (whereby 'recent' I mean 'anywhere in the last 16 years') housing developments. After following the perimeter of the school fence some way while trying to not look like a dodgy guy who stalks schools, I found a new entrance into the main field, and from there started my exploration of memory lane.
Ah, there's the tree I fell out of, and there's where I got a bleeding nose... And after getting from the field to the netball/tennis courts: And there's where I grazed my elbow really badly. That left a good mark for several months.
It wasn't all reminiscing about injuries: I walked passed my old rooms, remembering how much bigger I thought they were when I was 9. One memory in particular was when we put a rain gauge on the outer wall of our class, having it secured to the building by means I couldn't remember. I remember placing it at what was then shoulder height and seeing how close it was to the ground. Now I stood there looking at the same spot, my mind creating a phantom of my younger self in-front of me, my shoulders now much further above the ground.
All the old buildings seemed smaller, and the distances between points were much shorter too as my longer stride let me cross what I used to believe were large concrete/grass expanses. I was a giant in a small person's memory; several sizes too small for me to fit in, yet I felt oddly at home.
I finally walked out of my old school through the teachers car park where my classmates and I once left thumb tacks behind the tyres of an unknown car on April Fool's Day, feeling like for the first time in years that I had really come a long way.