Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, I was a kid and I went to a wonderful school (which I always pertained or thought of as large and dark castle I could run around in when no one was looking). Kind of like Hogwarts, in my kid version's mind. Then, one day, I had to leave it all behind.
11 years later, a bit grown up and not so kiddy anymore, I hear news that the castle I once knew was going to finally close down this coming June and the last Field Day ever was just this previous Sunday. And so, I decided to go back to it to say my final goodbyes, and once again, to look upon a past I thought I had long forgotten.
This is one of more meaningful posts, and I wish to tell the world of my childhood, and my journey back to it and what filled all of it, even if you all won't really understand or know how it is simply because you've no clue what this place is all about.
To me though, the experience was quite magical -- that bittersweet, nostalgic kind of magical.
Enjoy the photos, and thank you for visiting. :)
It begins with a train.
My journey back in time takes in the form of a yellow old-school Japanese train, which I have to sought after so many line transfers. Let me tell you that the underground railway is a massive labyrinth and I'm practically on the far right of the map. On a map, my final destination is at the farthest of the left and beyond. Meaning, the station which I'm supposed to go to (Fujimidai) goes past the map. Hilarious stuff.
My parents worried and fretted that I'd get lost because major train stations here are as complex as solving algebra, I suppose. So much hustle and bustle, so many people, directional signs, lines and it all gets confusing at some point. Again, a labyrinth.
Being the lovely adventurer that I am, I pulled through, no sweat. And boy, did it feel great. I felt like I was being pulled into a magical vortex, slowly leading me to my past. I think it was the old yellow train that did it. I saw it, and my mind triggered so many memories I thought I forgot. It felt so provincial, because for one, the yellow train barely had passengers (as compared to the usual trains I take in the city proper). I saw familiar sights as the train passed by, places I knew I'd been to, station names I'd once been so familiar with.
Once upon a time, Fujimidai Station looked like a dirty old shack posted in the middle of a small town, that made due for a station simply because it just had to. It always gave me the feeling of being in a fish market, and well, that's how I remember it.
But 11 years later...
Yep, they've got that fancy enclosure and they've got Mister Donut now (--where in the world?!) and within it's so spacious and massive and colourful. Fish market and random dirty shack, no more apparently. Wow.
Going to Santa Maria, because of the few changes I didn't recognize, I took a few wrong turns causing a supposedly 14minute walk to be 30 to 45 minutes tops. I missed the program of the Last Field Day ever (my official purpose of returning) and the iPhone GPS was just screwing up.
The GPS finally pulled through and I managed my way around quiet winding little roads that seemed all too familiar but changed.
I think my heart stopped for 2 seconds when I saw those familiar cemented walls and that green fence thing. That was one of the 'Santa Maria' trademarks I've etched in my memory for all these years. I'd spend so much time as a little kid looking into those 'fancy holes on the wall' just so I could take a look into what's happening in my own school. It's like looking into a keyhole and seeing what's within a room.
I tried doing that again and I found it odd how smaller things seemed to me now. Or how I struggled to look into that cemented hole... I thought I'd never have to worry about these things. I mean, I was a small kid back, and I'm still a small adult now. But still, the school seemed smaller, more quaint too. And I wondered how that was so...
And this photo above is something my eyes have been attuned to for the most part of my childhood. Again, one of the things etched in my memory.
The road to the right leads to...
...this. My old apartment. First row, middle.
Yes, I used to live right in front of my school. 5 steps and I'm there. I was never late. :))
And here we go. Welcome to my childhood.
|The old dance hall/stage. Seems so smaller now than what I remember|
|Love the 3rd artwork|
|My favorite place when I was a kid!|
|The Jungle Gym|
That Jungle Gym used to be one of the more dangerous play places back in the day. I looked at it and thought, 'how is that even possible?!'
I really, really found it odd how what once used to be so ominous and intimidating to me before, now seemed so frail and harmless and small. Amazing.
Don't get me wrong, I'd climb to the top of those things and feel like I was Captain of some pirate ship, or I was on top of a mountain overseeing the world, but now... wow.
|Some kids who broke the basketball hoop on the last day :||
|The principal and the P.E. teacher in reprimand mode.|
|Parking space for the school buses|
|The Sisters' convent|
Although I missed the day's event, I was still able to talk to the few remaining teachers whom I had back then.
Right, earlier I forgot to mention how Santa Maria is an international, Catholic school run by sisters. And the reason why they've been slowing shutting down (and finally will do this June) is because they've simply been getting old and they're no one to replace them. It's really sad since that's the case.
For years now, they've been prepping for this final closure by slowly removing class years from their curriculum. First, they took off the kindergarten, and then in the next year, first grade, and the next second grade. This year, they only had grades 4 to 6. All in preparation for that final closing.
I had wanted to show my future family where I'd come from, at least take my future husband to this place that used to be so magical to me but I'm afraid that won't be so anymore. I was afraid to ask what would happen to the structures of the school. Sister Mary Ann, the principal, mentioned something about taking care of 'troubled girls' but I wasn't quite sure what they'd do with the school structure per say. I'd like to think they won't tear the school down, but who knows what'll be of it years from now?
But the big swings that used to be on the field are long gone. Who knows what's next?
|Familiar road outside the school gates|
|And that's how close I am to my school! :))|
Once, this place was majestic. Now, it's filled with shrubs and greenery, vines and other things -- signs that wasn't really cared for. The apartment to our left is empty and it just all seemed so empty, lifeless, and worn down.
Again, that feeling of the place being so small to me.
|My school from my backyard|
When it snowed, I used to throw myself around this place, just running around and screaming and pretending how huge it just all was. And those stairs that lead upwards, I frightened to go up those stairs, but dared to anyway when I felt like it.
Now, my memories just dance around in my mind as take steps to explore what once had been.
It's all still there, but it's all so different now.
How times flies...she said.
I used to walk these little roads, running around, imagining, running around some more, screaming, playing, dancing, no troubles whatsoever. Everything was just a large world to me. Now, I've grown up, and.. well, what once was...will never be the same again. And that's what I realized. I return to my childhood world changed and grown and just so... different. All of this was my world before. And now, I come back to have one last look at it, say goodbye and move on to a new world -- a grown up world, a real world.
For days now, images of this past world flit through my mind constantly, and it gives me that warm familiar feeling. And now I wonder, how everything's been flying so fast beyond my control and comprehension and just..wow. It's all happening. And I can't stop it.
I think everyone has this drawer. In it, they place their past experiences, their past memories, their childhood, their old dreams. Sometimes, it's good to open it, take things out and just drown in them -- because they are such wonderful things to drown in. But every time we take it out, it gets harder and harder to close that drawer.
And it's been hard to close this one. I know I will never return to this place again -- either because I won't have the time or I've moved on already or I just grew up.
We're all a bunch of Peter Pan's, afraid to grow up and ever fearful of what's really out there, afraid to close that drawer full of dreams and memories. But the thing is, we have to. It's mandate and just, a means to go through in order to grow up.
The closing of Santa Maria has deeply saddened me, as I'm such is with most of my classmates and people I once knew and people who I'll never know, all attached to this place one way or another. It's just those things that you always think will be there, and then you're shocked to realize that everything really does have a mortality rate. Now, I just want to thank all the Sisters, all the teachers, and classmates who've helped me grow and taught me what I know now and simply giving the most wonderful memories in such a wonderful, magical school. Thank you for everything.
I never said goodbye back then. I just left without a word. Now, I return to give my final and formal parting words to my child version's world.
|This building used to be so intimidating to me|
|The 'haunted' mini shrine/road splitter|
Walking away, I couldn't help looking back again and again, and realize how further I am was I stepping away from the world I had once known.
I just wanted to stay in that comfortable and warm zone, but I knew I just had to walk away -- to close that drawer.
Here's to magical experiences and travelling back in time. Literally.
May you all find the time to go back in your pasts, find peace and closure with it and let go. This last image is just me waiting for the train to take me away from that childhood world I once knew.
Thank you for sticking around this post.
|our old backyard, on a winter's day|