The Park - place of sanctuary... Memories

We all had one growing up. It may have really been a park. It could have been a playing field, a graveyard, a railway embankment, a tree house, a forest. Just one place where you and your group of friends would meet up every day, lounge around for hours talking about everything and nothing, drinking beer, smoking hash and watching the hours roll by in great company.

A typical day in the life of outcasts teens, lazy, depressed, happy, sad, motivated, silly, young, old beyond our years... Countless hours of talking about the next gig we were going to, who the best guitarist in the world is, who the darkest 19th century poet was, about boys and about girls and about how we were going to afford the next packet of cigarettes and the next bottle of cheap red wine.

Our park was in the centre of the city, kind of in between all of our high schools, but right next to the private Catholic school a few of us went to. I had already dropped out of my school by that time, 1995 was the year of skipping class and then just never going back, smoking a lot of hash and drinking a lot of wine and beer, skipping through the park, contemplating the clouds in the sky, dating cute metal or goth boys and all signing our names in the little children's house with the slide. I must have had an awful reputation with the teachers at that school nearby as they used to try and drag my friends who went there back to class whenever they hung out with us all there. We were harmless, just different.

One night Alex and I decided that we were going to climb the fence and "break in" to the park... We did it, and walked through the trees in the pitch dark, pretending that we weren't scared when we really were, but unwilling to back out of the dare because we were trying to prove something to ourselves. At that moment we just wanted to run away to another country together and forget all about our lives, living another. Of course that never happened and I don't even know what he is doing or where he is nowadays, but that memory will always be imprinted in my mind.

Another time little skater Marion and I smoked a joint with some random guy and couldn't move for hours from the grass. Literally couldn't move. I suppose there was some lesson to be learnt there but I didn't learn it. The smell of burning Afghan hash still immediately brings me right back to the park and the memories of all that we left there.

Of course we weren't the only group to hang out there, there were other groups, but we never mingled with them. I think we all used to sneer at each other. Them at us because we wore ripped jeans and listened to aggressive music, and the boys had long hair and the girls smoked and swore. Us at them because we thought they were all boring and we felt inferior. We didn't fit in and they did.

My park is in the middle of Grenoble, France and it has a big fake elephant in the entrance. It's called the Jardin des Plantes (there is one in every French city) and is next to the Natural History Museum. The private high school is called Pierre Termier, my high school (lycee and college) was called Stendhal and was located just down the road (although my section has since been relocated). Some of my friends at the time have disappeared into their lives and away from mine, some are still very, very good friends and others I hear from now and again.

I'll always remember the time we drank bottles and bottles of beer in the afternoon and just stuck them upside down in the grass like a sculpture and left them there... It's amazing that the park keeper never banned us!