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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Past and Present

Playground where the tennis courts were
Inside the slide
 I was feeling nostalgic on the way to my brother's in Pennsylvania, so Bubs 1 and I called a childhood friend of mine and we made a "pit stop" in Highland Lakes, NJ. Not far from our route (just off Rt 84 from upstate NY), is the place where I grew up. Returning to my childhood brings both joy and pain, but I find myself continually returning.

I left Highland Lakes before I was ready. Not too long after my father left the family and eventually stopped sending money to us, my mother could no longer support the house. She told me that we couldn't stay in our home any longer. It was surreal. This place held my roots, which ran deep into its soil. Since then, I've been painfully enjoying every visit. This particular visit brought more joy, because I was sharing my history with Bubs 1. More than that, I was sharing the setting where many of my childhood memories stem - Beach 1.

After staying at my buddy Chris' house, Bubs 1 and I headed to Beach 1. As stated, this beach is an intrinsic part of my childhood. Every summer, during my elementary and middle school years, included basketball, softball, swimming and socializing. This was the place where I learned how to operate within the culture in which I was raised.

This view was unchanged
We found a playground where the old tennis courts once stood. I sent Bubs 1 up the playscape as I tried to imagine where, on the old courts, I would be standing if I were instantly transported back in time. For a split second, I wished that I could be transported back. I then turned around towards the lake. I looked for the spot where that old tree once stood. It was the only tree on the beach. It stood on the grass area. I couldn't find it among the numerous other trees planted since. The only view that didn't change was the lake. As long as I stared directly at the lake, I was back home.

There used to just be a fence here
On our visit, I stood, with coffee in hand, watching Bubs 1 play on the same grounds I stomped on at his age. It just felt right to have my little guy there enjoying a piece of my history all these years later. The only other feeling that will equal this accompanies the thought of knowing that I get to do this again with Bubs 2 (when he gets older). Moments leave, but memories stay.

I can bring both bubs here as many times as it takes for me to make peace with my past. I still have places to visit and old friends to see. On this trip, not only did we enjoy the hospitality of my good friend, Chris, but Bubs 1 and I got to hang out with more good friends - the Hibbits family.

Bubs 1 with friends from the hood

Bubs 1 and I drove through my old neighborhood and saw Mrs Hibbits outside her home. Mrs Hibbits was a good friend of my mother's. Bubs 1 never met his grandma, because she died almost 20 years before he was born. She would have spoiled the bubs - both bubs. Mrs Hibbits said the same thing. She invited Bubs 1 and me inside and we saw Mr Hibbits and soon Carol and her daughter took a ride up to visit (from the next town over). I heard a few stories about my mother that I never heard before. The combination of having Bubs 1 meet Mrs Hibbits, who lives just down the road from the house where I grew up in, was meaningful.

We'll be back for another visit soon.

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