Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hitting Home

Today's baseball field shooting took place where I grew up.

I don't mean in the same town (Alexandria) or the same neighborhood (Del Ray). I mean it was 3/4 of a block away from the row house I lived in from when I was four years old to when I went off to college.

I played in that field. The neighbor kids and I sang Monkees songs (we loved the TV repeats of the show) while swinging on the swingsets next to that field. I used to go to the YMCA across the parking lot. It's where I learned to swim as an after-school latchkey kid. (Not very well. I had to relearn in college.) We would take our dog for walks in that field. A small plane once crashed into that field. I slept through it, which is how I learned I am a skilled sleeper.

I broke my left arm on the monkey bars at that baseball park. My dad went to a turkey shoot and the neighbor took me and my mother to the hospital. We didn't think it was broken, because I could still move my fingers. Of course, we weren't exactly medical professionals. Lots of people can still move their fingers when they have a fracture or break. What did we know? We didn't have online reference yet.

My mother was mugged walking along that baseball field, and another time, my sister and mother were ambushed by drunk rednecks there (not coincidentally, the drunk rednecks were our next-door neighbors).

I have conflicted emotions about the area, since my childhood wasn't exactly idyllic, and I associate that area with a lot I'd prefer to forget, even as I strive to remember elusive but important traumatic moments.

I understand the area is gentrified and a lot safer now than it was then, but I guess it didn't feel that way today.

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