At 19-years-old, I find myself confronting the end of my childhood, and staring down the beginning of adulthood. I watch my cousin Felix growing up in a small village in Romania, which many generations of my family have called home throughout their lives.

In this quiet corner of Romania, five-year-old Felix develops through traditional avenues. Rather than spending hours staring into a tablet’s glowing screen, he plays in the sand. He finds joy in swimming in a small blow-up pool from the supermarket, riding his bike, and gazing up at the Milky Way at night, uninterrupted by passing cars or the howls of drunks on their way home.

I discovered a way back from the gradual shift into adulthood, regaining the raw, unaltered spirit cultivated during childhood; I decided to join Felix in his games. I would be the photographer—the storyteller—and he would act out the roles of various characters: a blonde little girl, a dog, a cowboy or a firm young man. Free from any kind of constraints, we let our imaginations run wild.

In The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes:

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I entered a new world, recalling my own childhood growing up without electronics. The lack of technology offered me the space to breathe, imagine, and search for my true identity. Each morning, the rising sun swallows up the fear of growing old with its nourishing light. Felix’s courtyard and its surroundings become my playground once again, the place where anything is possible.

—Felicia Simion