I was asked if there was ever a day in my youth that I would live over again, exactly as it was, without changing a thing. And there a few moments that I wish I could have back, exactly as they were, without changing a thing. I save these moments in my mental rolodex and keep them in the folds of my memory, to hold them when I need to, and to relive in moments like now
I am thinking of an afternoon. It was Sunday. The Old Man took me to the empty field just north of the baseball fields on Merrick Avenue to teach me how to catch a baseball. I remember The Old Man as he was. His salt and pepper hair parted from the left side over to the right. He wore sideburns, which fit the style of the time, and a pair of large framed eyeglasses bridged across the nose of his olive-skinned face. He wore his favorite blue sweatshirt; and the material was thin with age. The Old Man had on a pair of old blue jeans with bleach stains and rips and white sneakers.These were my young years. My town was young as well—a suburban place with no tall structures, except for the hospital on Hempstead Turnpike. Aside from this building, there were no tall structures in the town at all. Soon, however, they were planning to build a set of commercial office buildings on Glenn Curtis Boulevard. Tall glass buildings were to be built.
In my mind’s eye, I can see the field exactly as it was. I can see The Old Man, my father, in a caption as his arm reaches back in posture; a baseball glove is on his left hand and the baseball in his right hand with the red stitching around the white ball sticking out between his forked fingers as he reaches back before following through to toss the ball in my direction. I want to go here—right here and see this day exactly as it was. I want hear The Old Man’s voice as he directs me on how to hold a baseball and how to throw it. I want to hear him tell me how not to be afraid of the ball. And I want to hear those words exactly as he said them.
Overhead the sky was the kind of blue that only exists when you’re young. And The Old Man—he smiled with the afternoon sun shining on his face. He was as a father should be; patient and kind.
I was at the age when it was safe to be a kid.
And it was perfect
I want to relive a winter day. I want to feel the numbing pain in my little fingers and toes as well. The wind and snow were so cold that my lips turned purple. I would play in the snow until the cold hurt my feet, and still, I would play in the snow until the pain became unbearable.
I want to relive this day and remember the feeling I had when walking through the door from our backyard. I want to remember how wonderful it was to have Mom welcome me in with a cup of hot coco. I want smell the smells of the kitchen when she would make me her special cinnamon toast. Nothing in the world could taste like Mom’s cinnamon toast.Anything else would fail in comparison.
I want to sit at my old dining room table and hear the sounds of my home, exactly as they were, without changing a thing. My Mom’s voice was like a mother’s from a television show, and somehow, she was able to make me forget about the pain in my fingers and toes. And in an instant, all was warm again.
There’s an afternoon in my teenage years that I would like to see again. This was after my first so-called date with my first so-called girlfriend whose relationship with me only lasted two, long, and love filled days. I want to feel the way I did after my first kiss.
I walked home enjoying the afternoon sunset—not thinking about what the kids in school would say to me the next day—not worrying if anyone would make fun of me—no thinking if the girl would ever talk to me again, or if I made a fool of myself. No, I say to be young is to be foolish without apology. To be young is to be foolish without fear or regard for what the other kids might think or say. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
I was not thinking about status or my place in the popular circles. I was not thinking about anyone or anything else except for the amazing concept that a girl liked “ME” exactly as I was, without wanting to change a thing . . .
There is something to be said about the first time with a girl or girlfriend. And I remember the first time I noticed a girl. I remember the first time I understood why men, or in my case, a boy could lose himself in a girl. In my case, she was fare skinned with light brown hair. There was something sweet and innocent to her. There was something beautiful about her as well—like when she smiled and the corners of her mouth curled or when she was lost in thought, looking upwards perhaps thinking of something in great detail; and I sat by, watching and enjoying her without ever daring to tell the young girl about the effect she had on me. Suffice to say it was enough to see her. Suffice to say it was enough to know that a girl like her was placed in this world and that someday, I would find my queen, and she would make me feel this very same way.
There are times in my life that I would change. If could, there are times that I would live over and do everything differently. If I could go back, there are people I would stay away from. If I could change my yesterdays; if I could go back, right now, and see someone from my youth—I would be sure to walk up to them, as if it would be like in a movie, and I would smile at them and never stop.
There are things that if given the chance, I would change, and I would change them in a heartbeat. However, these things that I keep in the folds of my memory, like the times when I was young an untouched by the need to fit in or be cool—I would keep them exactly as they were and I would change a thing.
So help me God . . .