Hilda Spiel Helped Me To Understand…

“At this moment it becomes clear to me that from now on all my journeys will be shadowed by memories. Inevitably, I will transfigure my childhood- perhaps the only productive obsession of our time. Recently I read a book about James Joyce that writing was today “not an act of creation, but of evocation, saturated with reminiscences.” But I have not come in order to grieve for my early life. I am returning to my origin, alienated by long absence, steeled by many a loss and ready for a hard, presumably painful experience. Sometimes in dreams we unexpectedly stand face to face with ourselves. Something of the shock of such confrontations lies in the encounter with our past.” (Spiel, Return to Vienna 10).

This passage almost exactly explains what I feel every time I visit the Chestnut Hill Park back home. This park has basically watched me grow, as much as a habitat can. It became more than a place to me, though; it became an actual representation of my rights of passage.

Last I went to the park, spring break to be exact, I had an over-sweeping sense of nostalgia hit me. Spiel nails this feeling with her quote, “all my journeys will be shadowed by memories.” As we began to walk, I could not help but become almost inebriated by my own thoughtful images of the past.

The empty volleyball court became a stage; my mind’s thespians acted only for me, putting on the play called, “Dad and Steph’s First Volleyball Practice.” We then walked by a swing set inhabited by a mother pushing her child. However, my mind could only envision Matthew, age 3, with me behind him teaching him to pump his legs to make the swing fly.  I saw my best friend’s pavilion graduation party in place of the empty picnic tables. I saw the wooded area my friends and I once suffered poison ivy from, I recognized the cobblestone path that lead me to my first kiss, and it was all the same. Not a thing had changed in physicality, but time had made every moment into a memory. I can’t help but become bombarded by those memories when I go back to this place where nearly everything happened. Enjoying the park for itself is no longer an option because I get lost in my own reminiscent thought.

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