I went with my friend, Cathy, to a Cincinnati Reds game this past weekend. It was the first time I had taken my bff to my old stomping grounds. The baseball game was a perfect excuse to give Cathy the private tour of the ‘hood that was the setting for my childhood.
There were quite a few momentous stops on the tour. . .1. 907 Monte Lane – where I spent my teenage years.
2. 301 W. 6th Street – where Mom and Dad lived when I was born
3. 235 W. Robbins Street – where my great-grandparents lived
4. 254 W. 8th Street – where I spent my childhood
5. Main St. United Methodist Church – where I learned the 23rd Psalm
6. 3rd District Elementary – where I learned to play Jacks and the difference between stalagtites and stalagmites.
7. Covington Jr. High School - where I learned – well, I actually learned to pitch pennies
8. Holmes High School – where I not only survived but thrived in spite of being afflicted with the terrible disease of being a teenager.
There were a few more drive-bys where I pointed out where friends had lived, where I first began teaching, where my dad used to manage a gas station. I’m not sure Cathy actually said it, but I’m sure she was quite impressed with my early years. I mean it could probably be a made-for-tv movie or something.
What amazed me most was how small buildings and houses and streets appeared. I mean, my mini-van could hardly squeeze through the alley behind our 8th Street house, and I know for sure that all of my dad’s tools could not possibly have fit in the building that used to stand on a now empty slab of concrete that runs next to the alley.
I seriously rode miles up and down the sidewalk on my blue bike with a banana seat and spider handle bars in front of our house but now I’m not sure if Covington itself spans more than a mile or so. And I’m certainly not sure how my Popaw Dunn managed to get so many acres and acres of beautiful flowers in a postage-stamp sized yard.
After thinking on it overnight, I’ve figured out what’s going on and it isn’t some crap about me being bigger now than I was then so there’s some kind of distortion or something. Who would believe such convoluted logic?.
The real answer is that the buildings, homes, yards and alleys are still big and beautiful, just like they were 40+ years ago. I could not possibly have learned to go the distance, love without fear, laugh with wild abandon, be who God created me to be in such a seemingly small, drab, limited space.
Clearly, when I was giving my tour, I was looking at all of these holy spots with my eyes, when in reality I lived there with my heart. And we all know that love is actually bigger than it appears when you are looking with your eyes.