Do you remember Bridge to Terabithia?
There was a movie made in 2007 based on the book, but I’m bringing us back to the 90s and the OG Terabithia. The book that let two young girls imagine Jess and Leslie’s magical tree house world was our own.
Kicking It Nostalgia Style
Meg moved into my neighborhood when I was 6 and I have a distinct memory of peering into her mom’s blue minivan when they stopped by to introduce themselves. After being all bent out of shape because I had to move from my thriving social circle in Connecticut the year prior, 6 year old me knew that having 6 year old Meg right around the corner was a turning point.
We became fast friends and spent countless days exploring the woods behind our houses pretending that we had our very own Terabithia in suburban Massachusetts. After we were done jumping tree stumps and forging rivers, we would play Power Rangers in the pool, and American Girl Dolls in our rooms, and camp out at each other’s houses for sleep overs. Over time, we had developed a well-worn path of broken branches and matted down pine needles through the woods that connected our houses.
As we grew, there were Babysitter’s Club inspired day camps for the younger kids in our neighborhood, days spent plotting how we would convince our parents to let us go see The Brady Bunch movie at the theater by ourselves, and nights spent watching TGIF. There were school dances, and crushes, and trips to the mall. I remember two phone numbers from my childhood, my home number and Meg’s number. But we really didn’t need phones. You could just yell really loudly from the back deck.
Terabithia: The Next Generation
That was the kind of childhood I imagined for my kids one day. Roaming between the houses. Bridge to Terabithia in the woods. A home that was about more than just our nuclear family.
After Glen and I got married we made a very conscious decision to buy a house in a quiet neighborhood. There was no guarantee that there would be kids in the neighborhood the same age as our imaginary yet to be born children, but at least there would be a street with very little through traffic and some woods in the backyard, just in case.
As luck would have it, our next door neighbors had twins, a boy and a girl, one year before Jack was born. Now that Jack is 3, Norah is nearly 2 and the twins are 4, this big neighborly dream of mine is starting to come to fruition. It’s been three years of tentative toddler parallel play, but the friendship is growing.
This past winter, Jack saw the twins outside in their backyard and yelled over for them to come sledding. When we go on walks around the block now the four of them will run to greet each other in our neighboring driveways. I’ve watched as I become less integral to the enjoyment of a bicycle ride around the neighborhood as two little boys glide down the road laughing ahead of me. On more than one occasion, Jack has announced that he is going next door and starts making his way through the trees and bushes that separate our homes. It’s pure nostalgic childhood. The good stuff. Magic.
The Localist of Legends
That’s what I related to the most with the Gymboree Local Legends campaign. It’s about kids being kids, while wearing adorable and durable clothes, and not having to go far or make a big to do in order to have fun. It is simple “the kids next door, have a blast right where you are, unplugged” style memories. Americana in the best possible way.
I could blatantly lie to you and say that I don’t often get sappy about ad campaigns, but I feel like we’re past that point in our relationship. I’ve cried four times in the past two days and that’s not going to surprise anyone. But it’s not often that I’m compelled by an ad campaign to travel back in time and dig up all the nostalgic feels. I’ve realized how the very concept of being a “local legend” was ingrained in my youth. It has created a picture in my mind for what life and home should be. My village as a child, adolescent, and teen was an actual physical village because of a friend next door who became an extension of my family.
Then and now, I’ve never yearned for a fancy life. I want a local life. A legendary life grounded in the simple things. And a well-worn path through the woods.
With love for the present, the past, and Gymboree’s marketing department,
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P.P.S. Hi Meg! Let’s plan that ice cream date with the kids soon.