Mostly I forget I grew up in this place. My routine and world circles around the town I live in, which is not a town I knew much about or spent any time in during the 22 years I was here before I left. So there was about a 10 year break and I'm back at such a different place in my life. A seasoned wife and mother. A Mormon of some tenure. A homeowner. An SUV driver (how did we age so rapidly from the carefree life of little responsibility?!). Since I have been back, there is rare occasion I cross into Old Life Territory.
Friday I met a up with a friend at a park I have much history with. It made me smile to pull up with my car/ tummy full of kids and realize how fleeting time seems to be.
I remember hot afternoons training with my cross country team back and forth across the fields at this park. Ending relays by pushing my toes into the hill at the end. That brutal little hill. The scent of the fresh cut grass always reminded me it was fall and time to retrain my muscles, to push them, to enjoy the sweat because it meant I was working hard.
I remember sitting under a tree at this park with a boy and listening to his hearbeat. And wishing upon a star in the dark. Now realizing that wish came true.
I rode down hills on skateboards with a friend at this park.
Stood with a boy in the rain one night on the bridge. Watching the water droplettes fall into the little stream. It was the night before I would leave to meet my father for the first time in 14 years.
My favorite memory of this park was when my mother had to collect me one night after she got a phone call from the police at 1am. Four of us girls met up with four new to us boys. Apparently, Gilbert was pretty serious about its curfew rules. I wish it was a better story with more scandal, but that was it. A bunch of girls probably wearing too much perfume planning to go to a club later that night and a bunch of nerdy boys in polos that weren't even worth getting grounded for.
I remember going to this park with Mike, he wouldn't let me pay for the bread for the ducks. I think we got some of that fresh cut grass in our hair rolling around together in it while we kissed.
Many years later, during a visit from NY, I remember pushing my niece up a grassy hill in her wheelchair at this park. I remember her soft hair in the breeze and her tiny, delightful giggle. And my sister shouting 'don't let her tip over!' My mom was with us and we all had a lot of fun that day. I wish my sister and her family lived here now so we could have those kind of times some more.
And Friday I got to watch my own kids feed ducks and run around on the hills while my baby girl kicked in my tummy at this same park. It all looks a lot different from this part of life. The trees are bigger. I never noticed them blossoming before. The grass not as soft as I remember, much more crunchy. It made me miss the parks in California. It was kind of neat to visit a famliar place again and remember I'm kind of home. Or at least in a place that I didn't know I would leave for so long and the good it did me to step away and grow.