The Bright Side: The places where memories live on

Published 8:15 am Thursday, August 10, 2023

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As I sat down to write this column, I had a flashback to when I was an adolescent, growing up in our family home back in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Our next-door neighbors had a dog that looked a lot like a small deer with floppy ears; her name was Schnappy. Schnappy would always sneak over to the side of our house, where we had a sliding door that led to our kitchen/dining area. My mom didn’t know how to turn down a pup looking for a small snack, so we would secretly give Schnappy a treat when she visited. I loved when Schnappy would pop by; she was such a kind, friendly dog that always had her tail wagging and wouldn’t harm a fly.

That same spot where we would feed the neighbor’s dog was precisely where I broke my arm when I was six. I never did learn not to run in flip-slops; but nonetheless, it was a bittersweet patch of grass with worn white steps and small dark-green bushes. Thinking back, there were so many places that held both painful and beautiful memories.

I look back on these spots with fondness. The park that was situated about a mile from my home back in Pennsylvania holds a special place in my heart. My sister, mom and I would walk our dogs there often; we discussed a lot about life on these walks, from the daily ins and outs to what the future looked like for both of us. This park saw the bright and dark sides of my life: from laughter with friends to hard break-ups to an irritated soon-to-be college girl to walks with my now-husband. I like to think that Anderson Park contains little pieces of me – good and bad.

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I think about places like my local YMCA in Pennsylvania, where I spent a good chunk of time for about 10 years. From learning how to swim, to teaching swim lessons, to lifeguarding, camp counseling and then deck supervising, that one building saw many, many days of my life. I met a lot of people there, connected with some and disconnected with others. It saw my accomplishments and my tears. I don’t focus so much on the rough days, but the fact that there are pieces of me that still reside in that Y.

The point I’d like to make here is that, where I believe there is always a bright side, there has to be another side, too. And that’s okay. We can recognize that shifting our focus to one doesn’t mean the other simply doesn’t exist, because without the pain and the hurt and even the suffering, we wouldn’t appreciate the joy that exists there, too. Some places we may never want to return to (physically and metaphorically), but we can always appreciate them for what they were to us at the time. All in all, we made it through. Doors closed, others opened; it all happened for a reason. You made an impact, nonetheless, on lives, on places, on memories that live on in the place we left them.

There is a spot here on the Outer Banks that I have fallen in love with. It sits at the end of Bay Drive in Kitty Hawk. There’s a wooden deck that overlooks the sound with some benches to rest on. The trees hang over the water, canoes rest up on the sand. It’s the most peaceful place I’ve ever spent time at. I go there often – whether it’s to read, to write, to talk to God, to cry to God, to forget my worries or harp on them. That spot has already witnessed many sides of me, and I can’t help but return. I’ve solved a lot of problems on that deck as the sun has set, so much so that I swear there is magic there. I feel closer to God there. No matter what the circumstances of the memories made there are, it will always have a piece of me – of my heart.