Dobel Street

Bad attitude made better

Sometimes when I go back to the old neighborhood, it kills my spirit. Instead of feeling like I’m part of the solution, I just feel overwhelmed, pissed off and even hopeless.

I had one of those “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THIS PLACE AND WHY AM I HERE?!” moments last night.

My wife, Shannon, and I were at Fletcher Field, working on the old baseball diamond. A summer full of rain has kept the grass green and luscious at the park, but it’s also made the weeds grow like, well, weeds. We were there to spray a couple gallons of Roundup on the infield ahead of next week’s softball game against DTE.

While we sprayed, I fumed. I couldn’t help but think about what used to be, how 40 years ago, during the summer of 1973, I had spent so much time on the same field, playing pickup games of baseball and enjoying the company of my friends from the neighborhood. Back then, the whole park was packed with kids on summer evenings, and the surrounding area was crowded with small but tidy bungalows, which were full of life and love.

Last night, there were just a few of us in the park, which is now surrounded mostly by vacant, polluted lots, with a few blighted houses sprinkled in. The scene, though I’ve become accustomed to it over the years, continues to haunt and sicken me sometimes.

Today — with the sun brightly shining, the birds chirping and after a little talk with myself  — I feel differently about yesterday’s park visit.

Like I’ve said many times over the years: What’s past is past … It is what it is … What will be depends on us.

How cool is it that my wife and I were able to hang out last night on what’s become hallowed ground for me? I mean, really, how awesome and unpredictable is life?

If somebody would have told me back when I was a 9-year-old boy playing baseball at Fletcher Field that 40 years later I would be back there with my wife, this time playing grounds crew, I would have laughed it off.

But there we were last night, the two of us together, back where it all started for me, trying to start something all over again.