There are few places left for me now that remind me of my childhood. The home that I grew up in was sold while I was living in Germany straight after I left school. My Nan’s house in Ballina where I spent almost all of my Christmases was sold when she died two months short of her 97th birthday.
When I drive into my old neighbourhood and I turn into Parade Street and take that next right into Showview Street an emotional mix of feelings conjure. The trees are older, still silent and forever a faithful witness to many of my childhood firsts; hooning downhill (even then) on my red tricycle with a canary yellow detachable seat, catching the school bus struggling to get up the stairs with my over-sized brown school port. Or walking a street away to the golf course where I would acquire lost golf balls and sell them to my dad.
So there are not many places left that can take me back to my childhood self. My best friend from school her parent’s house was sold last year, another memory activating place gone from my repertoire. There are fewer and fewer places.
Why are these places of memory so important for me? I think they are important to all of us. These familiar spots are important to me as I feel connected- I am part of the places history and it is a part of mine. My connection might be blatantly obvious or it could be subtle and understated. But the sense of belonging is strong.
Maybe there is one unexpected place left. It is a location that I spent many winters of my childhood, then a fair few summers in my adolescent years. And now in the spirit of true circle of life- I find myself back there now with my own children.
Albert Park is not just a place to play baseball.
Sure a lot of baseball is played there but there is more to Albert Park. It is a place where characters are built, a place that sees the very best of sportsmanship and regretfully the very worst. It is a place where boys become men. It is a community made up of predominately four clubs. Sure there are some differences between clubs but that is always the case with any big family.
Albert Park is what it is today based on various small groups of people over different generations all with a vision and a passion for a game they loved. Our community has a baseball facility that is of such a high quality that many of us take it for granted. It is not until we go away and compete that we understand the magic of Albert Park.
As a four year old girl I felt a bit of that magic as I played in the mud with all the other baseball orphans as our fathers played and our mothers sat huddled under blankets watching their men folk play their nine innings. There was a freedom then that is still there even today, as you watch the kids roam free playing outside as the winter sun sets.
I was not unhappy to be at Albert Park this morning at 7:00am. I felt at home as I walked inside the diamond the dew dampening my shoes with such gentleness, unlike winter where the grass is weighted heavily by the dew and lack of sun to ease the load.
I was thankful that my sons were playing a sport that would give to them as much as they were prepared to give it. I was grateful that they had coaches that were willing to sacrifice their time to train and mentor them.
I was content, I was at home.