When I was little, sometimes I’d stand on the bed in the spare room and peer out the window to inspect the ground below. The side of our house that was never used, the side, that for a time, became a fixation. There wasn’t much to see, a long strip of grass and the row of cedar trees my Dad planted when we moved in. It was mostly always in shadow, the light blocked from one side by the house itself and the other by the tight row of trees on the other. Damp and slightly mossy in places, it seemed forlorn and lost, I felt sorry for that side of the house. Sorry and guilty, because nobody including me ever set foot on that side except for my Dad who mowed it in the summer every other weekend, and maybe our dog who sometimes left a gift or two for the lawn gods.
Sometimes I’d try and coerce my friends to play there to no avail, which was just fine with me. One bright summer morning, my friends off doing other things, I, having become increasingly discomforted by the solitary and I felt, lonely, misunderstood life of that grassy strip, gathered a blanket, Barbie, all her accoutrements and headed over to the neglected, slightly melancholy side of the house to play. I spread out the blanket, arranged Barbie and her wardrobe out carefully, determined to treat this little patch like I did the rest of the yard. I would love it just the same.
It didn’t last long. The squishy feel of the moist, spongy grass beneath the blanket, the odd, uneasy pressure of the shade on such a glorious day, the sense of missing out proved to be too much, sending me fleeing back into the warmth of summer light, where Barbie could wear her bathing suit and lounge, stiff-legged with Ken in the sun, on her colourful red and yellow chairs made from the tops of my monkey barrel games, minus the monkeys of course, and I could rest easy, knowing that some sort of rule of fairness had been restored, my self imposed duty accomplished.