I long for the lost sanctuaries of my childhood


As a child, I lived a blissful existence.

My world was one of safety and comfort, where I never strayed too far from my nest and my mama bird. I was a child in constant motion whose little body never tired from the endless activities and liveliness. I loved my childhood and the accompanying memories. Now looking back, I can still see remnants of my fond past. My nest and my caring family still remain, but that all too familiar landscape has now morphed into a completely new picture.

For as long as I could remember, Saturday mornings were for YMCA soccer. Whether I was on the Purple Grapes or the Orange Tigers, I would be out on the fields those mornings, racing around to keep up with the game and excitedly awaiting the post-game treat that followed every game. I remember going to the YMCA with my dad all the time to hang out while he worked out. I remember my short legs moving slowly on the treadmill as I eagerly watched cartoons that I couldn’t see at home. I remember learning to swim in their indoor pool and splashing around gleefully with my brothers when it all finally clicked for me. I remember being put in daycare there with plenty of strange children but feeling safe and welcomed all the same.

But sadly, like most other parts of my childhood, that tradition vanished. The building now lies in ruin, crushed easily by big yellow cranes and machinery; I doubt their operators even comprehend their demolition of those deeply-rooted memories. Every time I see it, my heart breaks for the brokenness of that scene, and I mourn the loss of my childhood sanctuary.

When I graduated from mediocre YMCA soccer to club soccer, my new team would diligently practice on the fields behind Keystone Church, our cleats tearing up the luscious green span. Those same soccer fields where I once ran my heart out, running drills and playing my position, are now gone. Gone and replaced by a freshly installed parking lot. Those warm memories of rushing around and cheering with my rosy-cheeked team have been paved over with black asphalt and straight, white lines. The once lively lot is now unrecognizable and cold.

My point is not that progress and moving forward in society is wrong and horrible; in fact, I welcome development and advancement toward a better future. However, my childhood memories are embedded in the old ways, and as we move onward, development has wiped the slate clean, erasing the old memories to be replaced by new ones.

Over the past couple years, we have progressed so much as a community, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Indeed, the centers that house my childhood memories are not the same as how I remembered them as a child. But those new places are becoming centers that unite people and welcome fresh faces.

As happy as I am for the development, I still long for those original places that made their mark on my childhood world. But life must move on. Another season of life brings a new season of changes and growing up. Each generation must make its mark on the world in one way or another, and without making space for them, their opportunities to do so become limited.