Driving through my hometown of Des Moines, Washington with my son the other day, it occurred to me how differently we experience the same place. It is his hometown, too, but we have very distinct impressions of the same streets and all that occupies them. I see a lifetime of my memories and understand the heartbeat of the asphalt uniquely.
While cruising past the various bars and restaurants, I see some beautiful bad choices and many, mostly legal, adventures. At the marina, I see a 17-year old boy sitting with his best friends in a guest moorage slip, drinking Strohs and listening to Bon Jovi. When I see the pier, I remember riding my bike on cool Sunday mornings, hauling my fishing pole and crab trap, to catch some rock crab and flounder, both of which I used to actually eat.
I see my life on these streets and no one else sees them as I do. We all see the same world differently. Pondering my son’s future memories, included certainly will be sailing from the marina with our buddy, Nick. Riding his bike and long board to ABC Grocery, chatting up Yun, and getting a “Mexi-coke” will be in his bank of fun stuff which will connect him to his streets. Eating ice cream bars at the Dog House with Tami will also hold a nice thought. He is creating memories that he will come to love.
A place is an inert, lifeless, dull thing until we apply an experience to it. It, then, becomes special. We carry the special places with us everywhere we go. And when they leave, though we may miss them, they don’t really leave. They exist forever in the fond recollections of a life lived. And we can return to them anytime we choose.
This thought comforts me during times of great change. I see my hometown as a shell of its former self. I see businesses closed and the life I knew growing up gone. I suppose this is true of every place, everywhere. They change. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, though what is “better” or “worse” is a subjective judgment. And this judgment relies on our experience of a place. This is how we come to love places. We feel them.
As I lament the passing of some of my places, I need only enter Des Moines Drug to enter a time machine and travel back to the days when my dad would shop at Johnny’s and I would cross the parking lot to go read wrestling magazines from the rack. The building is the same. The front doors remain as they were back then. And the sweet aroma of soaps and oils and medicines take me back to a special time.
What I will not lose in this experience is that ALL times are special. Yesterday was special. Tomorrow will be special. And today is perhaps the most special of all times. Things change and have always changed. Our memories don’t change. They remain and are available to take us back to our wonderful and important places and times.
So…right now…I’m heading down to the marina to have a few beers with a couple of old buddies and listen to some ‘Jovi…if only in my mind…but the mind is not a bad place to reside. In fact, it may be the best place there is and it’s the place that lasts the longest…This is a good thought…
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called "A Feel Good Life" (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]