Friday, March 12, 2010

Don't Look Back, You Can Never Look Back

Saw a video today of the demolition going on at the old Yankee Stadium. Didn't feel anything. The feeling brought to mind a song by one of the Eagles flying solo. Was it Glen Frey? Don't know. But the lyrics have stuck over the years:

"Saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. Don't look back, you can never look back."

That's the truth of it. Many of us try to relive the past or at least recreate it. We have high school reunions. We buy matchbox cars and old baseball cards on eBay. Some of us try to visit the houses were we grew up. The Fan has done all of those things. Only went to one reunion in thirty years though. But the overriding feeling for all of those things is detachment.

As kids, the Fan's immediate family always spent a couple of weeks down at Wildwood, New Jersey. It was the best part of our childhood. It was our escape and our magical times. We had a shoestring budget, but we stayed on the upper floor of this Italian couple, the Tropeas. It was homey and it was like our second home. Recently, the Fan's brother and sister spent some time in Wildwood and came back disappointed. Condos have replaced most of the houses and the Art Decco hotels. Of course it's changed. That's what happens in life.

Recently on Facebook, a bunch of the former employees of the software company the Fan worked for have started a group. It seemed like a good idea. But it leaves the Fan sort of ambivalent. The Fan put his soul into that company and as one of the first employees, helped usher it from a start up to a $40 million a year business. The business was bought up and moved to Georgia. That's life. It sucks, but there it is. Nothing stays the same for very long. The Fan still cares about the hundreds of people he hired over the years that are now scrambling to take care of their families. But there is no emotional need to rehash the times there. It's over.

Old Yankee Stadium is over too. Some of the Fan's best childhood memories are involved with that place. There was Craig Nettles' home run to win a 1-0 game. There were bat days and Bob Shepherd on the P.A. It was all magical and wonderful. But it's in the past. Once the decision was made to build a new place, the old place died. It's gone.

Many of us spend a huge amount of time looking back and trying to recreate the feelings that helped shape us. It doesn't work. That girl, Julie, from the Fan's homeroom is never going to be a part of the Fan's life. The house that was so special in Bergenfield, New Jersey, where the Fan and his brother shared all those good times on the side of the house building mud matchbox cities, is gone. Buying the house and trying to make mud cities now would just feel kind of stupid. Wildwood will never be the Wildwood of our childhood. And the software company once called ATX Forms will never exist again. Now you can add Yankee Stadium to that list.

Going back is never as special as the memories and the emotions that resonate from recalling them. You don't have to go back there because they remain inside us forever. Reconnecting with old friends like Jimmy Conrad and Tom Cairoli after thirty years might be nice, but in reality it would probably be awkward. But the memory of their friendships and the fun times we shared stay inside forever. The Fan can never get his dad back and anyone who vainly attempts to go to seances are groping through sand.

Yankee Stadium was a glorious place. It had a majesty to it. It spoke of the lore of history and echoed with the ghosts of Babe Ruth and others. When it was rocking and the fans were going crazy, it was a one of a kind experience. The Fan will always have those memories. But there is no sense in wishing to go back there. It's gone and will never come back. Heck, it's doubtful that there was a ghost of Babe Ruth there either. He probably knew you couldn't go back.

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