I remember the playground from my childhood.
I was sent there – on any summer day it wasn’t raining –
as all kids were then,
so busy mothers could have a break
from their roles as caretakers, disciplinarians, referees.
I was an awkward, gawky kid:
bespectacled, too tall, too clumsy, too naive.
I was afraid of making mistakes.
I was afraid of breaking my glasses.
I was afraid of the kids who seemed so smooth,
so clever, so able to easily connect with each other and the world.
Hell, I was afraid of everything, everybody.
I believed a lot of nonsense they told me
if they said it with enough authority.
I gratefully grasped at any overture of camaraderie,
never realizing until much later that I was being mocked,
the straw dummy in the midst of their parade.
I’m not a kid anymore, at least not in the eyes of the world,
but the memory of the playground lives on:
that open space, so inviting and yet so scary,
peopled with others whose very presence
caused me to shrink inside myself, fearing rejection,
yet eager to connect, but not knowing quite how.
And nothing’s changed, really.
The playground I enter now is much larger, more complex
Even after decades of a life wide-ranging in its explorations
I have acquired too few street smarts.
I’m still awkward, naive; I’m still gullible.
I believe too readily, trust too easily.
Treat me gently, please, on this playground.
You see, I’m still that kid.
© 2012 RC deWinter
On remaining vulnerable.