As I was preparing for an old neighborhood gathering last night, I got thinking about how our focus when we were kids was about playing and having fun. Exactly what kids should be doing. How the rules for being home in time for dinner wasn’t an imposition, and how picking teams for kickball was as natural as the grasshoppers that clung to our legs as we ran through the fields.
Then I thought about how far off kilter we’ve gotten when life took what seemed like a mean turn into adulthood.
And I know that we old neighbors aren’t any different at the core than anyone else. Our lives reflect the lives of all people.
We all have lost, been lied to, been hurt by people whom we never thought would or could hurt us, and we’ve all faced our own mortality as we see those around us reach another atmosphere.
We’ve all felt burning love, and had driving hopes and plans for amazing futures.
We’ve all tripped up, made mistakes, and wish we could take back some things we’ve said.
We’ve all had the tables turned on us and had to be the guide for our parents. And we’ve had the awesome job of nursing our friends and siblings, both physically and emotionally during their down times. We’ve even accepted their offers to hold us up during times of our own troubles.
Some of us old neighbors have completely opposing political views…I suppose a result of our individual understandings of how society works and should work.
Some of us believe in God and some probably don’t.
Some of us have even had some tussles about day-to-day routines that seem to collide with each other, and some of us have a complete and unassuming acceptance of what is.
But with all of our rough edges, our smooth and wavy souls, and our precious and very coveted senses of humor, we came together today to catch up, laugh, and play a rousing game of croquet, with a sense of our seemingly idyllic childhoods just under the surface of our skin.
The game we played started exactly where we left off one day long ago when we had no idea that we were turning our backs on the safety that characterized our childhood. Our modern-day game was played with a little more analytical thought than what we brought to the lawn as youngsters way back when. The game was approached with a strategy of playfulness, and for some, likely a little thought of cheating…more to add flare to the day than to win.
The playing of the game reflects our past, present and our future. We wonder who we would be if it were not for our little baseball field, our underground forts, and our never-ending quest for gathering in rain or shine, in the snow or in leaf piles. We now try like heck to live in the present as we wonder about the future, and dream of our past. We continue to play along in life with people we know well and those we’ve just met, and try our best to never take anything too seriously.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
I cherish my old neighborhood friends. We had no idea what foundation we were laying for our future all those years ago. Our lives went in many directions, but our future as friends never wavered.
We are all indeed still friends.
And we played today like we always did.
Like our only cares were the game at hand and what time we’d be called for dinner.