During the Thanksgiving weekend, I took my family into NYC to enjoy the start of the Holiday spirit. If we plan to make it a long-term stay, we usually spend the night at my parents’ place in Roosevelt Island, where I also grew up. Each time I visit, I will find and/or look at something dating back to my childhood with complete nostalgia.
On Roosevelt Island there are a number of jungle gyms and parks that my kids enjoy. Ever since my wife and I moved for a suburban setting, we realize that NYC still has the best jungle gyms. This time we went to one in a playground complex that I spent a lot of time in, not as a toddler or child on a swing, but for something else – Wall Ball.
We played a modified game of tag in the jungle gym, but I couldn’t help be distracted by the fenced in, concrete hand-ball court, or wall, that was adjacent to us. The wall was where I spent most of my late-teens, mostly collegiate years, doing wall ball drills – alone. I don’t think anybody else played lacrosse on Roosevelt Island, at least I wasn’t aware of others. And regardless of attending a college, or art school, basically without a sports program, I still did my wall-ball routine whenever I was home.
As my kids continued to play on the jungle gym I approached the concrete wall and stared at it, 8 to 10 feet away, as if I had my lacrosse stick with me. I looked at the cracks and chips exposing the old layers of paint from wear and tear and the numerous shades of grey. I wondered if some of that was due to my countless reps not to just maintain my lacrosse stick skills, but to improve them. The white painted line which I used to help with my footwork was still there. I kept looking at the wall, smiling at it, as if I was seeing an old and great friend that I’m not in touch with anymore. As the bright sun was to my side, it casted a few shadows on the wall representing the juxtaposition of nature in a tree and a fence for the urban setting. I took a picture with my phone and made sure the composition, lighting and contrast was right, because it had to be – that wall holds a lot of stories and most of all, reminders.
Looking at that concrete wall, I am reminded that growing up in NYC without ample field space did not stop my love for a predominantly suburban sport. I am reminded that even without a travel team in my youth age, or even a college team, I can still be very resourceful. And most of all, I am reminded that while anybody can be talented in something or passionate about anything, it’s really determination that takes you to a greater level.
I took one more pic as I left the jungle gym with my family, this time of the name of the playground, which didn’t have a name, back then. Just like seeing the concrete wall, I smiled due to the name on the sign. I think people around my age and older will recognize it. After I moved out of my parents’ place, my folks kept on downsizing until they found their current place which was previously occupied by the former actor, Al Lewis, until his passing in 2006.
It seems that from now on, two things of great interests and reminders will come from that place.
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