Sep 22, 2011

Lifetime Friendships, Parks & Ghosts

Think of the park where you played when you were young. It was probably the closest one to your house. Back then, you could walk to the park, meet your friends there and play all day without much worry at all.

So you've taken yourself to that place and you are accompanied by all your childhood friends and the bonds have been casted in plaster. Bonds that are perhaps or even likely the strongest you have ever formed beyond family and partners.

Everyone is there even those who have exited this life. They are all smiling, healthy and you can reach out and touch them. Today in this flashback, in this park, everyone is very much alive and safe.

The mission of the day - simple - have fun, laugh, chase one another across an open field, or a basketball court. Learn something - how to throw a Frisbee or pitch a strike or do a lay up. Gather that endless energy that has returned to every molecule of your being and put it all out there for everyone to see. Express yourself without any fear of being judged or silenced.

Smell the scent of summer all over you. Talk and talk a lot and really fast as you are unable to contain your excitement. Play a game for 5 minutes and then switch to another and keep it going until sun set when your mom calls you in for dinner.

Live in the here and now because when you're a kid, that's all you know and that's all you care about.

Laughing, joking, so much a part of being a child and so much lacking later in life when you are an adult. As an adult you often find yourself saying, " I have not laughed that much in ....". As an adult you hang onto those moments at dinner with friends or family or at work when as a group you laugh so hard that you cry. As a child that is a daily occurrence.

Have you ever gone back to a park or any special place from your childhood? Have you ever returned to your old neighborhood and felt the ghosts surround you as you found yourself capturing images of your friends faces? Places from our pasts are overloaded with memories - places from our pasts freeze time and capture everything that escaped as we moved on in life.

My park (Wentworth Park later renamed Kirwin Park) remains in back of the house where I was born and remained for over 20 years. My parents still live there and my nephews play baseball and hockey in that very park where my brothers dressed me in over sized goalie equipment and took slap shots on me. The park where I played girls softball, where my dad and my brothers were in baseball leagues and where me and my friend Karen first learned how to skate.

Karen and I lived across the park from one another - out back porches facing one another. So after having spent the entire day together and before our parent would send us to bed (and tell us we could not use the phone any longer), she would turn her porch light on and off and I would do the same - it was a signal that said goodnight - it was a signal of true childhood friendship.

It's also the park with the green bleachers under which I kissed a boy (and I liked it) for the first time. 

Later in life before the house was sold, before my dad passed away, I always visited them and headed out to the back porch. I set my dogs loose to run and roll in the grass. I watched the sky change from blue to gray to orange and I could still hear the ball players shouting and cheering under the giant lights. I breathed in the sweet scent of summer as it turned to fall and I had a vision of me, my brothers and our friends running all over yelling and screaming and having an amazing time.

I wish I could go back to that park with my brothers and friends and spend all day and all night there until curfew. I wish that porch light would blink just one more time as the ghosts appear and say hello - as they fly through the air and pay their respects to that sacred place in time.

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