In the 1988 movie Stealing Home, Mark Harmon plays Billy Wyatt, a former baseball player who must return home to deal with the death of Katie Chandler, a special woman from his past, played by Jodi Foster. Billy and Katie had gone their separate ways when Billy was 18 and hadn't seen each other in the ensuing 20 years before Katie's death.
Much of the movie consists of Billy's childhood flashbacks that provide the perspective needed to understand why present day events are so poignant - and why Katie played such an important role in his life.
In one scene after the flashbacks, the now 38-year-old Billy picks up his high school friend Allan (played by Harold Ramis) and the two get drunk while discussing Katie's demise. Before you know it, the two are rummaging through their parents' house for baseball equipment, climbing into their high school uniforms and breaking into a stadium to once again play ball together.
Such is the pull of childhood memories.
In the summer of my 38th year, I found myself visiting the town where I grew up. The official reason was the 20 year high school reunion. The REAL reason was the pull of those childhood memories.
For the first two days of the week-long visit, I drove alone to memorable place after memorable place. The memories rushed in such floods that I had to stop the car and quietly let them replenish themselves. Amazing how a place can instantly open mental file drawers long sealed and forgotten. After two days of refamiliarizing with places and memories, I was ready to do the same with old friends.
First on the list - Dobbs.
I met Dave in the third grade and we practically lived together until my family moved from the area when I was 17. Name a sport and we played it. Baseball, tennis, and golf in the summer, football in the fall, basketball, hockey, and ping-pong in the winter and any or all of them in the spring.
Now adults, neither of us were very active.
I picked him up downtown and we decided to drive to "the pit," the place were we'd played so many of those games. Short on sports equipment, we found ourselves at his parents house - the one he grew up in - just a block away. Next thing you know, we're in the basement - the same one I'd spent so many hours in as a child - rummaging for sports equipment.
Today I can close my eyes and see it as clearly as then. Dobbs and I walking to the pit, glove thrust over the knob on baseball bat balanced on my shoulder, Dobbs continually tossing a ball into his mitt. Walking the same path we'd walked hundreds of times 20 years earlier. And then a magical hour of slapping fly balls to each other in our childhood field of dreams. The entire time grinning ear to ear from creating my own scene right out of "Stealing Home."
As I look back on that week, that time with Dobbs burns the brightest of all other memories. Sure, it piggybacked on the hundreds of childhood memories that had come before. And it tied in nicely to that movie I love. But what made it so special was its simplicity. It didn't cost any money, lives weren't depending on our results, there were no hidden agendas, no pressure to perform. For that magical hour, we were absolutely free from the demands of adulthood and had given ourselves permission to play.
Freedom. Fun. Friendship. Those were the emotional states that burned our childhood events so brightly into memories. So it's not really those memories we seek to relive today, what we really want is those emotional states. And emotional states can be accessed from only one place - inside our own minds.
Guess who has the ability to learn how to create those?
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz