When I was little, I would ask permission to look both ways and cross the street to the playground beside the ball park across from my house.
When I was a teeny bopper I would unearth dimes from wherever I could, to buy five cent candies from the 7-Eleven on the other side of that same ball park.
And when I was a young adult with a reasonably extended curfew, I would stay out late in that ball park, goofing off with my friends; we’d lie on our backs and watch the stars, chase each other around the outfield, and laugh hysterically for hours.
Now, I live 1,636 kilometres from that ball park.
The friends I hung out with live anywhere from 3 to 2,000 km from that ball park.
This week I was wandering through Superstore when I happened down the stationary isle. Looking at all those coil-bound notebooks and cases of Papermate pens, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of nostalgia for the days before the new year began, when my mom or dad would take me out, school-supplied product list in hand, to purchase new plastic-scented binders, glue sticks, and pencil crayons.
I was wrapping up two months of blissful laziness I strongly felt I had earned after all that hard work in class the year before. I would have awkward tan lines, a host of new scars and a couple pairs of grass-stained pants.
Most of the time, I don’t have a yen for those days gone by. I was dorky, and clueless, and gawky. My world revolved around sleep overs and rollerblading up and down the driveway. Let’s face it: I was a goof.
But carefree has a certain allure when your current state of being is a pleasing combo of stress about making ends meet, stress about starting a real career, and moments of missing home, where even a passing thought of the uncomfortable green hide-a-bed in the rec room brings on a yearning for my old room.
It’s not that I miss my parents or best friend uncontrollably (just a reasonable amount), or the days of doing nothing at all, or the old ball park and recently updated playground. It’s the entire package.
The feeling first came on during a few days of deciding not to go home for Christmas. It would be the first time in 27 years that I wouldn’t be sitting on the floor that crisp morning, dividing presents – one for mom, one for dad, one for me, one for the lil brudder. Repeat.
I have since come to the conclusion that I will pull out all the stops to make it home for Santa Day. The S.O. is cheerfully on board since, as he says, he doesn’t want to have to put up with Pouty Me if I don’t get home.
But even with that issue resolved – finances pending – little reminders of my place of birth and growth keep cropping up. Co-workers mentioning their family dinners, parks that look like the ones I used to frequent (or, more likely, don’t and I’m imagining things), music I first heard when I was in high school or still taping radio playlists with a little black Sanyo.
The way I figure it, we don’t ever completely grow up. We can move away, make our own money, stop running and screaming around ball parks … but some little piece of us will always long for easy summers climbing trees, and shopping trips where our only responsibility was to stay near the cart.
Making your bed doesn’t seem like such an insurmountable chore anymore, does it?