Things change so quickly. I know, I know. Of course, they do. That’s life. But that hit me today as I sat alone for a few quiet, peaceful minutes surveying the small town I spent much of my life in.
As I looked at an aging park across the street to the west, I thought, “Damn, it’s been 20 years since Dan (my brother) and I played tennis in that park.” The tennis court is a skating park now. It has been for years. Man did we have some wars on that court.
I remember my first trip to that park, which was and is essentially a few swings, merry-go-round and some picnic tables. Back then, the park was loaded with trees. I remember sitting under one talking to a friend, also a freshman, who was dating a senior who really wasn’t a nice guy.
I looked across the street to the north, at an old house that has transformed from nice to something straight out of “Hoarders.” Seriously, who keeps a washing machine in the front yard?
I looked across the street to the west again, to the senior apartments that have been there forever. Not much has changed there, which makes sense.
I thought about cutting wood with my dad earlier in the day. How just a few weeks ago, he was in the hospital after a heart attack. Today, he’s picking up 75-pound stumps, cutting wood, hauling brush, keeping pace with a healthy son 31 years younger than him.
I also thought about where I was a few years ago. Cutting wood wouldn’t have been possible. Neither would picking up 100-pound trunks. Getting to that point after being so pathetically out of shape didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of a lifetime, it didn’t take long.
Then I looked to the south and saw my mentor, my high school English and journalism teacher, walking home. I thought about how she was the first person to call me when I decided to leave Kansas State and come home. Good lord … that was 16 years ago.
She was walking with her family, her daughter, granddaughter and two grandsons. Then I smiled. That’s my family. I literally laughed out loud as I thought about high school, how the girlfriend and I barely knew each other.
It hit me again: Hell, we barely knew each other 18 months ago. She was the hot girl from high school who happened to be related to my favorite teacher and a really good friend (her sister). I was the “star pupil” (her words, not mine) who her mom talked about.
A year after we started dating, I can’t believe all the wonderful changes time has brought. It’s happened so fast. That’s life. And I’m grateful to have a good one.