When I usually write about traveling it’s about a place I’ve been to relatively recently with camera in-hand. This time, due to an inspiration brought about by a class activity, I’d like to travel backward to a memory and explore a staple from my childhood: The Field.
Outside of my suburban St. Louis childhood neighborhood was a large stretch of field which we simply referred to as “The Field.” This title didn’t come about due to a lack of imagination but on the contrary, it was an open invitation. To give it any other name, code word (as was likely back in those days), or any other designation would imply a specific purpose or meaning. The Field was whatever we wanted it to be. Baseball field one day, Nerf battleground the next. During the summer nights it was reserved for flash-light tag and in the spring, hot-air balloons often landed there, a spectacle worthy of banging on each childhood friend’s door and quickly biking back to greet the skyfarers, begging for the possibility to board their skycraft.
All imagination aside, The Field wasn’t just a rectangular stretch of land. No really, it had no defined shape that I can describe. Rather, we described it in its separate sections. It had it’s large open field portion, the one we’d use for the aforementioned baseball games and tag, but also a lining of tree’s we’d known as “the forts” used by the “teenagers,” a clan of people whose culture was unknown to our youthful nature. It was also a place where they smoked pot, whatever that was. But most mysteriously was the place known as “the swamp” which rested on the outer rim of The Field and was essentially a mud-hole with an overturned cart of some sort which had been put in and sunk into the mud with only a corner peaking out which taunted us continuously. “What is that?” we would ask. “Where did it come from?” we would wonder.
Despite having driven all about and around St. Louis County, this field served as a frontier to us children. Something so familiar and nearby was thought about with such reverence and given the embodiment of exploration and thought of as the physical plane of imagine.
I wonder often, if the adjacent neighborhoods were home to children who thought the same way about the unclaimed stretch of land connecting our communities. I hope they shared in the adventures and wonders of the land given to us (probably due to the over-lookings of some home-building company).
Sitting in my Clifton apartment some seven years later, I entertain the thought of whether or not my life might have been changed by spending this time within proximity to my childhood home of imagination. To this day I feel a connection to that place. Perhaps it birthed my creative nature. Maybe it it was just a field. Either way, the times were good. And maybe that’s all I could have asked for from The Field.