Not so long ago approaching 40 I visited the grounds of my pre-school Regina Pacis, The roofs of the buildings were falling in, the old playground chocked with weeds but the memories still there. It felt so sad and neglected, still I heard the voices and laughter of children long since past. It was only 3 years of my life but those 3 years were rich in memory and warmth. I guess I was about 4-6 for then which makes me realize how much of an impact that time has had and the range of real emotion experienced during a time when now as grown ups we don’t take the small things quite seriously enough.
The song on which I hang those memories is “The Drummer Boy” when I hear that song my thoughts turn to Regina Pacis. Brett was the drummer boy, oddly enough I can’t remember what my role was in that nativity play, probably an angel but I remember Brett with his little drum.
My longest standing friendship developed at the school, Dom and I were on the fringe of the “cool group” well I was probably further out to sea than her but we formed a strong bond of friendship as the “outcasts”. The cool kids didn’t like me, I wonder if that’s where I started out being a bit of a misfit? Would it have been different if the core group had not rejected me? Maybe, maybe not, most likely I would always have found it difficult to fit in, it has been a blessing and a curse through life. Karen Vaubell was the queen of the cool kids (hmmm seems that role was always taken by the blonds), I still remember the hurt of not being invited to her birthday party. In our playground there was an enormous concrete pipe, the kind used in construction. One day this rolled over Karen’s foot and crushed her big toe, it was pretty gruesome seeing the blood drip out of her little black Bata shoe but at 6 odd (literally and physically) I have to admit to an inner chuckle.
The school was run by nuns, lovely women. They were assisted by a few of the Moms, my Mom took the art classes, no boring old finger painting for us, we did Batik, tie die and other wonderful things. The matchstick sculptures may not have been her smartest move, of course we loved doing them, dripping candle wax onto a cardboard base and sticking matchsticks together with wax was great fun. Such was our enthusiasm that one morning before the school day began, Geoffrey Benporath did a bit of work with his and set the curtains alight, ah well could have been worse.
I spent play time with Dom, we made up our own secret codes and languages and spent hours chatting. The sacred space was a little room where the eucharist was kept, it was dark and cosy and God felt so very near in there. When I was sad I would find safety there.
I miss the place sorely but more than that I miss the essence.