Almost every year when I come back to Chicago, I do something trying to reinvigorate a memory from years past. I've visited my old grade school or the park I used to hang out at. I've taken the drive into my old neighborhood that my dad and I made every day for a month after we moved farther out into the city. Even Wednesday night, I hiked into the woods where we ran cross country meets.
Thursday, I tried something different -- recreating a memory not from my childhood, but from the experience of my son and me.
In 2006, we were in Chicago for a friend's wedding, and Michael and I came back a few days earlier while Lori and 4-month-old Ben stayed in Salt Lake City. My parents and grandma got to spend some extra time with Michael, and I got a few days of break that I desperately needed at a particularly stressful period of work. On two of those nights, my sister Kate had soccer practice on the large field next to Taft High School. With nothing else to do, we tagged along, and Michael, not quite 3 years old yet, and I kicked a soccer ball around in the early fall evening. Dad commented how Michael naturally took to kicking the ball. The sun was beginning to set both evenings -- the beautiful orange the beams through the pollution at this time of year. Though this was nine years ago, the moment is vivid.
Nine years later, we are back in Chicago in the fall. Dad is coaching the nearby grade school's sixth-grade boys' soccer team, and today, they had a game at a nearby grade school in the late afternoon early evening. We watched the game and kicked a ball around on the sideline.
OK, it wasn't quite the same. Michael has moved on from soccer, and even though I joked with him about suiting up and helping Dad's team (which didn't have any subs), he didn't want to kick the ball too much. Ben had fun and even warmed up with the team. I let him try some shots on goal after the game (he missed a penalty kick in his last game). The sun began to set. It was fall.
So now I'm wondering if the next 10 years will go to reliving the memories of the boys. Because in a decade, both of them will be in college, and I can't quite believe how fast the last nine have gone since those two fall evenings on the field next to Taft. Most of our memories are Utah-bound, but there are places we haven't gone to in years -- parks, trails, museums, and so on.
The memories are thick, but thankfully, they don't seem so distant yet.
(The rest of Thursday was good. We picked up the rental car, and Michael and I went to Nick's for lunch. We had Lou Malnati's pizza for dinner at the house. The boys went with my dad on a bike ride. And the fall day was beautiful.)