When I worked and lived in Dexter, I frequently drove past Mill Creek Sports Center. And when I say frequently, I mean every day for twenty-nine years. Needless to say, the outside was a very familiar scene with the pontoon boats and stacks of Sea-Doos ready for sale. It was the home of the local seasonal buck pole with the occasional group of protestors. Every November at the opening of firearm deer season, the street in front of the Center would be clogged with pick-up trucks and pedestrian traffic as the first bucks brought in would hang from the temporary scaffold built for the occasion.
<I’ll spare those with fainter hearts the picture of the buck pole that I considered putting here.>
I neither work nor live in Dexter anymore, but on a recent jaunt through town I saw that the building is gone – nothing but an empty lot remains. A strong feeling of sadness washed over me. But why? I don’t hunt or fish, and I didn’t use the indoor shooting range. I don’t believe I ever had an occasion to go inside. I don’t live in that town anymore. In fact, I hadn’t thought about Mill Creeks Sports Center or missed it until I saw that it was gone. You can’t miss something that you didn’t know was gone, but why did I immediately miss it when I discovered it was no longer there? And what is that feeling called? I felt sad, and I described it as sad, but I’m not sure why the absence of a building I didn’t really have a personal attachment to would make me sad. I guess nostalgic would be the better word, but it felt deeper than that.
Its a bit like the feeling I have when I learn that somebody that I once knew, but hasn’t been a part of my life in many years, has passed away. I haven’t kept in touch, maybe haven’t thought about them in a long time, but once I’ve heard they have left this earthly world, I think of them often and I feel a hole. Am I regretful that I didn’t keep in touch? Sad because their life is finished? Or is it natural to contemplate such events as markers of the passing of time.
Sometimes we are not good arbiters regarding what we will miss. What mother hasn’t celebrated the joy of putting diaper changing behind her, only to sometimes think longingly of that time with her 2, or 3, or 4 year old? I still miss a job that I had half my career ago. I had frustrating days and thought about leaving numerous times, but 15 years later, I still miss it and occasionally dream about working there.
On the flip side, I don’t miss our house in Dexter at all, and I thought I would. In fact, I resisted selling ‘our home’ where we lived for 19 years and raised our son because I thought I would miss it too much. Turns out my son and all our memories came with us.
A discussion with my brother led to the topic of other types of things that we miss: an out of touch friend (that would be a friend that you haven’t seen for a long time, not a friend with unrealistic expectations), singing in church youth choir, and favorite home-cooked meals from childhood. And in some cases, there is really no good reason to be missing these things. So I guess my point, if I have one on this rainy afternoon, is to suggest we do something about the things we can. Call that friend you have been meaning to talk to and pick a date to get together. Join a local community choir. Pull out that recipe and make the favorite meal that your mom used to make for you, understanding it probably won’t be the same, but will most likely bring you some happy memories while you’re preparing it.