Play Time

Newton - Nostalgia2
Photography by Ashley Newton

I see a girl who is about eight to ten years old. I see her almost every day, especially in the summer when the days are at their longest and the weather is most suited for being outdoors. This girl is always smiling, laughing, and playing with her neighbourhood friends. They are always together with each other and have such a great community, since their parents are all friends with each other too. She and her friends come up with such imaginative ways to use their time, like riding their bicycles as fast as they can in circles, or playing cops and robbers. Sometimes they go into one of the lucky one’s backyards and play in the tree house their parents built for all the children to play in; transforming it into a pirate ship, or a space ship. One of her favourite games is pretending to be characters from their favourite television shows, each taking turns at being one or another. In the summertime, I see her smile all of the time. She loves to be out in the sun, playing with the neighbours or swimming in the pool – where they also have many fun games.

Sometimes, I catch her glancing off into the distance, taking a moment away from the time that is around her. I know that during those moments she has let her imagination take her to a place far away from the present, into the future, into the unknown, playing with her thoughts and ideas; I see her smile at this. She gets back into the game with her friends. They all have so much energy to run around, skip, jump, hop… any action to take them closer to the sky. Their imaginations fascinate me, as I am an outsider looking in at their little enjoyable community of friendship and fun. She can see me sometimes looking back at her, though she doesn’t understand who I am; she just lets her imagination wonder what I could mean. She is with her friends so often, imagining different worlds and places, creating new possibilities and ways to live. Once in a while though, I see a hint of sadness in her expressions, which she is so good at concealing to her friends. Life as a child is blissful – what frets could she be pondering? Her life is superbly fun, and she just gets to play every day.

As I sit here writing this I look back on my life. Am I nostalgic for a time that never was, sifting through memories that my mind has chosen to remember over others? I think that now is not the time to be nostalgic. Nostalgia implies wishing for a simpler time, one from the past, from a different life. But now is the exciting time to be! I do not need to think about the future, nor of the past, I just want to be in the now and enjoy every moment that I live through. That young girl playing outside with her friends knows freedom and life — we all know that feeling — and it is happening right now.