Last night we attended a an outdoor showing of The Sandlot at Mike Reynolds’ (of Puzzling Posts fame) house. It was billed as a drive-in, but Mike and Andrea were a little misleading. Unbelievably we actually had to park our cars and carry our own seating into their backyard. I really thought they could have hooked us up with a sound system to plug our cars into and then we could sit in our own steel cages to avoid having to talk to other people. Instead, they provided socializing, beer, popcorn, hotdogs and lots and lots of candy, which helped the kids in attendance make it to the end of the movie. Somehow I have never seen the Sandlot before and it was great. This post is not about the movie or the drive-in/walk-in candy-fest. It is about the perfection that I found in my pocket.
I put my hand in my pocket shortly after we arrived and discovered a small, white plastic ball. It is a ball from a Hungry Hippo game I had picked up off the floor earlier in the day to prevent our almost 11 month old from swallowing it. I guess it put it in my pocket to be relocated to a more appropriate place later in the day.
I found myself reaching into my pocket to play with it and turn it around in my fingers. There is something about the smoothness of a marble that appeals to my sense of touch. It was a plastic marble but the smoothness was still appealing. I am not religious, but I can see the merit in having a strand of beads like a rosary. Working the beads through your fingers and saying a mantra like a prayer could be very soothing and help one to focus their thoughts. A meditation on those things that are important to you or an opportunity to void your mind of noise and focus on the beads, their shape and smoothness.
Perhaps it was just the marble in my pocket that guided my thoughts last night and this morning. More likely it was the combination of the marble and the movie. If you don’t know the Sandlot – I didn’t until last night – it is about a band of boys playing baseball and the camaraderie that comes with being a playing with neighbourhood kids and the freedom of childhood. It made me think of the freedom of my childhood. Especially the years before I moved to a new city at the age of nine. I certainly had freedom to roam in the new city, although we tended to be closer to home because I lived in a townhouse complex with a lot of common space. Prior to moving I had a core group of friends that I played with who lived in the neighbourhood. We biked to one another’s houses and roamed the neighbourhood on a wide scale on our bikes.
We didn’t play baseball like in the movie – although I did do that with the kids I played with after moving. One game we did play frequently was marbles. Maybe that explains my baseball skills… There was a dirt path near our houses that ran alongside the sound barrier beside the highway and linked all the dead-end streets together – one of which was mine. The good thing about dirt paths is that you can dig a good marble hole with your shoe. To the uninitiated we would kick a bit of a hole to get it started and then stick our heel in that hole and spin around to carve out a funnel-shaped hole. Apparently we played a game of marbles called Puggy, although we just called it marbles.
We would sit in the dirt and play over and over again, occasionally having to move for cyclists or walkers since we typically dug our hole in the middle of the path. I’m sure finding holes like this in the middle of a path is the kind of thing that would irritate me now as a cyclist, until I recognized it as a marble hole.
We all had treasured marbles and I still have my bag of marbles – it has always been a crown royal bag. I even have a smaller leather satchel to keep the best ones in. I am not sure if I ever played marbles after moving cities and to the best of my knowledge this is the collection I moved with, which means I have carried this bag of marbles with me for 30 years and moved it with me eight times so far. I have shown them to the girls and am loath to share them because I like having them. I rather suspect they will disappear in their hands or more likely appear underfoot at inopportune times.
These marbles are one of the few things I have held on to since I was a kid and I am immediately transported to that dirt path whenever I look at them. That dirt path was my sandlot.
Glass marbles are much nicer to hold and touch than plastic ones stolen from hungry hippos. They warm from the heat of your hand and are perfectly smooth, unless of course they have a history of being banged into other marbles in which case they may have chips and bumps in the surface. These are the marbles that lead to victory.
The simplicity of the marble and its texture gives pause and space for contemplation.The good memories tied to the marble turned the simple plastic hippo food into a magical, perfect time machine all neatly tucked into a corner of my pocket.Click To Tweet
What childhood objects do you still have that are tied to powerful memories?
Were you ever part of a neighbourhood gang of kids?