This used to be my Playground

Have you seen the movie A League of Their Own? You know, the movie about women who played major league baseball while all the men were off fighting World War II? Well, at the end, when the credits are rolling, the actual ballplayers  are playing at the Baseball Hall of Fame while Madonna sings “This Used to be my Playground” in the background. These women are now elderly but still feisty – in my mind’s eye I can see one overweight granny kicking the dirt in argument with the umpire. Priceless but with a tinge of sentimental sadness. Of course that might have been the music affecting me. Anyway, the song title came to my head this past week as I was roaming around Madison, WI where I lived 9 1/2 years of my life not too long ago. There was a definite mixture of feelings as I recognized many of the former places I had visited or even hung out regularly. There were, of course, many sites that I didn’t know, as the city continues to explode with new construction on campus and off. I didn’t have to miss any significant venue – luckily all my favorite places are still intact. And it was nice to eat at my favorite haunts – I was surprised and pleased that at the Mediterranean Cafe, the owner remembered me and struck up a conversation with me. But throughout my magical mystery memory lane tour, I asked myself, “Do I still belong here? Or is this a place only in my past?” Some incidents seemed to indicate a return – I met a glassblower (a cool job!) who admitted to offering lessons and I connected with his philosophies. Yet, I didn’t feel a true connection to the city. Sure it is beautiful, with green causeways, millions of bike paths, and surrounded by five or more lakes, but the pristine new buildings left me with a plasticky taste in my mouth. I realized life in gritty Albany, NY was more satisfying to me. Perhaps I was simply visiting my old stomping grounds, processing feelings that had been left unresolved before going further on my journey into the unknown future. Looking back did leave me with more than one tear in my eye, however – this part of my life was over – the youthful part, perhaps? – and I needed to take a moment to mourn this. And so I did.

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