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Every child should have a treehouse. A refuge from the world.

 

I once had the mother of all treehouses. Built from the stout planks of my great-grandfather’s last ox-waggon, it had a tin roof, a lookout tower, flagpole and a wood burning stove made from an old truck’s petrol tank. That’s where I kept my National Geographics and read about sunken treasure galleons and undiscovered tribes in far-forgotten jungles. Here I dreamed about exploring the world one day, planned my conquests and recovered from my defeats. There I used to sit till late at night, staring into the dancing flames. I would think about life, love and dreams, until my mother would come looking for me with a flashlight in her hand, gently saying, “come son – it’s late now. Time to come home.”

 

I loved that tree house. It was my castle. And in a certain sense, it was my very first little piece of real estate. Whenever I was angry at society – lonely or depressed, I could always hurry up the ladder and shut the hatch. It was a magic world in the ancient arms of that ancient belhambra tree, where grownups never entered.

 

When I became a student, I paid it forward by building a treehouse for two small Free State kids. And years later I received a letter from the little girl in which she said that whenever life was cruel to her, she would still climb up into her treehouse to cry and think of me.

 

It seems fitting that every one of God’s children should have a treehouse. A little piece of real estate that was closer to heaven than the world below. Yes, every child should have a treehouse. A treehouse for the soul. I became homeless the day I lost my treehouse.