Backdoor to Wonder

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As soon as I stepped out the door, I was greeted by a wasteland. Barren ground, devoid of life, was crumbling under my dirty shoes. A red, hazy sky, foreboding the bloody battles that awaited me... “What happened to our Earth?” cried the people. And by my side, there was a rusted, bent sword, one I had since I was a child. It was the only thing left on the planet to deal with the onslaught of the aliens. It looked grim, an impossible task. But two words changed everything, bringing it all back to normal. “James! Dinner!”


I was always one to play in my yard. I don’t do it so much today, but it was a big part of my life back then. I was around 9 to 13 when I did it. Sticks became sharp swords, rocks became brilliantly shining money, and trees became vicious monsters. I wanted my life to be like a video game. Playing video games was another hobby of mine. Nothing quite beat staying up trying to unlock a character in Super Smash Bros., or saving the princess and grabbing the stars in Super Mario 64. Of course, none of this existed in real life, but a kid can always pretend.


I had many tools of the trade when it came to “saving the world”. But one of my favorites was a long, thin metal tube, which I dismantled from an object I didn’t recognize, that I found in my shed one winter some years ago. Black rubber tape was wrapped around one end, giving it the appearance of a Japanese katana, and it even had the slight curve of the iconic swords. While this tube was broken, and eventually lost, it still got plenty of monster-slaying action before it was retired.


I treated it all like a game, and an adventure. In my mind, it even looked like a game. Imagine, turning on your Nintendo, and seeing none other than yourself! That’s what I wanted, and that’s what was planted in my mind, as health meters and point counters bordered the world around me. I knew it wasn’t real, but it was still a lot of fun for a little kid.


I was inspired a lot by the adventures of Calvin and Hobbes as a kid, as seeing all that crazy stuff from his imagination really made me want to be in his shoes, and one of the reasons why I created this fantasy world for myself, although I was much better behaved than the titular boy!


I can’t ignore one big part of the yard I was so interested in. The tall, lush forest behind my house, branches like arms, inviting you in, only to have you caught in the thorns on the weeds permeating the yard… It was treacherous, yet serene. Despite the danger, it was always nice to just go to the clearing in the middle, and relax on the fallen log, and listen to the wind and the birds without a care in the world.


And I shouldn’t overlook something that may sound strange – breaking rocks. A lot of my time spent in the yards was breaking rocks, and cinderblocks, with hammers, or even a huge, rusty pickaxe I found in my garage one day. It was a pretty destructive hobby, but I liked it a lot for whatever reason. It was a way I was able to pass the time.


And as I arrive home today, I may just stop, take a look outside, and take one more trip back into the mystical world that everyone has right in their own yard. The aliens will never see it coming.

The End





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