March 12, 2015
The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us. When the world seems familiar, when one has got used to existence, one has become an adult.
One of my fondest memories of my dad as a kid was the fact that he took time out of his days to take me to parks. My dad and I loved finding new parks to go to and explore. That was our thing. We would travel around the different areas and have picnics in the parks of Chicago and its neighboring suburbs. Sometimes we even went to a couple parks in one day…if there was time.
My absolute favorite park we would go to was called Memorial Park but it was nicknamed Rocket Park for the amazing Rocket slide it had. Most parks (at least most city parks) didn’t shape their equipment into awesome things like rockets. In fact, the only things that usually were shaped as something else were the baby swings and rockers and those were lame. When a slide was shaped as something different, it was awesome. I honestly felt like this was the tallest and scariest slide that had ever existed. I would pretend that it was going to shoot me into space and my dad would be the mission control person that would tell me “Houston, We have a problem!” I being the ever amazing astronaut would fix the problem by shooting myself off the ramp of the slide. This place, particularly the slide, was my Disney Land.
Rocket Park was a special place for my dad and I. He never brought my brother and sisters there. Only us! We then would follow our space exploration with some ice cream from Primo’s. And instead of returning to Earth, we returned home where I would already be passed out in the car from my long journey.
In high school, a friend of mine lived by Rocket Park. We were cutting though the park to go to some party. As we were walking through the park, I asked her if we could go down the slide. She seemed a little irritated but obliged and as we were both sitting up in the top where the tip of the rocket was. I felt that the slide wasn’t as tall and scary as it used to be. I didn’t feel that I was about to blast off into space anymore. I didn’t feel anything anymore. I grew up. It was a terrible realization: I wasn’t a kid anymore.
I can’t wait to take my daughter to that park, have a picnic, and man the mission control station as she shoots out into space so that I can have that feeling again.