Friday, April 27, 2012

Down Memory Lane, or, Crossing Traffic in a Ditch



In my ongoing effort to become at least slightly more active, I’ve been taking walks.  I mean, actual walks, not just spending time on my exer-glider or moving aimlessly between rooms in my house to increase my step count.  These walks have been outside and everything.

Today, though, I wasn’t feeling like just wandering around the neighborhood again, so I drove over to one of the local parks.  And, truth be told, all I really did was trade my current neighborhood for my old one, because I chose the park just down the street from my childhood home.  I spent many fun days playing there, and whenever I’m there again it feels like a place I will always belong.

Of course, it’s changed some since I was a kid—what hasn’t?  What was a ridiculously shallow kiddie pool (though I certainly would not have described it that way then) is now a new-fangled splash pad.  And one of the empty grassy areas is now a skateboard park.  Things always change.

But, one of the things I’m pretty sure will never change is the drainage ditch that runs alongside the park and through the surrounding streets, and I’m really glad that modern technology still hasn’t figured out a more practical way to move rainwater.

I’m sure being nostalgic for a ditch seems a little odd, and I guess maybe it is, but when I was a kid that concrete passageway seemed like a highway to heaven.  You see, to get to the park from our house, you had to cross a street (considered a “busy” street in those days, but laughably quaint now) and a railroad track.  I’m not sure my mom was any more over-protective than the typical mother, but she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of her kids taking a risk on locomotive carnage just to go play on the swings.  After all, we had a perfectly fine swing set in our own back yard.

But that’s where the ditch came in.  Because that’s where function met form, at least for me: the ditch ran under the dangers of the roadway, and that made it a beautiful thing.  Mama was fine with us taking ourselves to the park, as long as we took the ditch, and you didn’t have to tell us twice.  In fact, when I was there today, it was only some sense of grown-up propriety that kept me from clambering down in there and crossing over to the old street just like we had back in the day.  Sometimes being a grown up isn’t much fun.  But still remembering the kid I used to be?  That rocks.



This is taken from the park side of the “busy” street; that’s my old block over there.