The last time I returned to school in September was thirty years ago. That’s a long time. But I still get the odd pang, the odd triggered memory of that feeling. There’s something in the slight change in the weather, the cooler mornings, the crispness in the air. It makes me want to pick up a few books and head to campus. Even though September is usually associated with the ending of a season, it always felt like the beginning of something for me. New clothes, new friends, the baseball pennant race. And some days the weather can’t be beat. Cigarettes never tasted better than on a sunny day in September on a university campus while wearing a new sweater and chatting with a pretty girl.
I cleaned out my garage yesterday. I found things I didn’t know I had. Gardening equipment we’ve used once. I didn’t know I owned an axe. I haven’t played hockey in thirty-five years and yet I own three pucks. There are two tennis rackets and a plastic tube of balls. I remember the last time I played tennis. It was a little over nine years ago, the day after my wife and I bought our house and the day some dear friends got engaged. At least those rackets mean something to me, if not anything regarding tennis.
As I was sweeping the floor of the garage I felt it was going too slowly. So I changed gears and really started to give’er. As I stood over my little broom and swept furiously, I actually shouted out, “Sweep. sweep!” I’ve never been in a curling rink before but part of me feels like I have.
I found my old baseball glove. I got it in 1975. It’s a Sears Ted Williams model. Ted Williams had been retired for fifteen years and was famously disinterested in fielding. It’s a barely usable glove but I couldn’t imagine throwing it away. So it’s put away for now, with a softball resting in its pocket, just in case.
I was riding my bike yesterday and I had a revelation. It might be obvious to those who are around younger people all the time but it wasn’t to me. There are kids on university campuses who do not remember September 11th, 2001. People used to say the world changed that day but it didn’t if you didn’t watch it or don’t remember it. The weather was exactly the same yesterday as it was sixteen years ago. Perfect weather to smoke a cigarette, wear a new sweater, and chat with a pretty girl. But it sure didn’t feel that way back then. Except for the cigarette part, I sure hope the kids today can still find that feeling so when they’re cleaning out their garages thirty years from now, sipping on a beer and staring at an old baseball glove, it will bring a smile to their faces.