I’ve lived in the same apartment for my entire life, on the top floor of my building, overlooking a park that I went to almost everyday as a kid. The park is relatively small, with a big grassy hill that we would all sled down in the snow, a basketball court to shoot balls around when the big kids weren’t there, water sprinklers for the summer, and a red and blue jungle gym to make my mother nervous while I flipped on the monkey bars. It was an extremely happy place for me, to put that very simply. There was no commute to have fun outside as I lived literally across the street, and I had friends that lived in the surrounding buildings who I would run into there (sometimes very literally!) This was MY park and an extension of home.
There’s a large window in my dining room that gives the best view for overlooking the park and at the other apartment buildings that surround the park. This window, with the trees outside, I realized the other day is a sort of clock for me.
I would watch the sun go down through it when I was little after playing in the snow all day, wishing I was still outside sledding with everyone else. Now, I use it to check how much snow has fallen to determine if I have to go to school or not, looking at the park for information rather than in yearning. I haven’t gone there to be active or just have a good time in years. I’ve either lost touch with the friends that live in the surrounding buildings, or they’re away at school, or just no longer interested in being physically active or outside. It feels like that part of my life is gone now. I don’t want it to be. So, instead of being a place for fun, it has become a distant sort of tool. I now watch the seasons change via the trees from up above; how much of the park I can see through the leaves depends on the time of year.
I stood at the window the other day (originally to see how much of the foliage has fallen off of the trees), but then heard people playing basketball, and yelling, and having fun in the beautiful fall weather. The sadness that I felt at what my relationship with this park has become is insurmountable and I miss it terribly. I started crying and I felt stuck. I’m not as physically active in my free time as I used to be and as I would like to be, I don’t have as many local friends, I’m disconnected from my little suburban community just as a result of all of us getting older.
But I also realized that even though I felt this sadness for the turn in the relationship, I didn’t wish to turn back the clock and be a kid again. I just promised myself to consider the space more often as a place of comfort, happiness, fun, friends, physicality, and in turn mend our relationship for the future.