There are two places that come to mind that deserve mention.

The first would have to be a small, gnarled tree in the back of the parking lot of my elementary school. Although it is by no means hidden from the view of others I spent many private moments here- both alone and with my best friend. This is the place where we would run immediately after being let out of the cafeteria to escape the peers with which we shared a mutual distaste. For some reason they would never bother walking all the way across the cement battlefield to torment us. It must have been too much trouble. Come to think of it another place we used to retreat to for shelter lay in the same parking lot. There was an incredibly tiny, cramped clearing behind a thorny rose bush. We would have to sneak behind a fence in order to climb back over and drop into the clearing. These places were used to share stories and, later, for the creation of our own alternate universe where we spent as much time as we could hiding away from the thorns and barbs of reality. On a return visit to this location a month or so ago we discovered that the tree had been cut down by fiendish gardeners. Apparently some of the overhanging limbs had been causing damage to unwary drivers. There was a long moment of silence. Then we left.

Behind the public high school in my hometown is a field used for soccer and other sports. This is the area where I would meet with a small group of friends every day after school. It is important to note here that I did not attend this school. I went to a Catholic school in another town where I lived largely in solitude. It was only when I came to this place that I was able to walk around without some degree of paranoia and/or anger. Here I had friends. Or at least people with whom I could connect on some level. The field was where we would go to play frisbee or, at night, to just sit and talk under the stars. Many tears were shed here for various reasons and by various people. I still go back there sometimes, but it is never the same. Perhaps this is because I no longer speak to most of those people, or perhaps it is because the field has changed somehow. A permanent marker of our time there remains- a few spots of dried blood on the bleachers where a friend slashed his arm repeatedly after breaking up with his girlfriend.