There’s this great store in the town where I live. Just off the main downtown drag, a red brick building sprawls over a block and up a few stories. The front and side are strapped by tall, clean, bright windows. A wood sign hangs like a tooth over the street, hanging out their shingle for almost 100 years. It’s a hardware and sporting goods store and when I see it, I can’t help but think of Willa Cather’s My Antonia and my dad.
In the still early morning, I ran along the street where this building sits. Lit from inside racks of batting helmets vied for space with football helmets and pads. School colors popped from tees and shorts. Bats, balls, and duffel a crowded for attention,
I remembered driving with my dad to the shoe store for all white Pony high tops for my short-lived basketball career, to pick out the perfect mitt for my longer but still brief softball career. I remember running in to town with him to the hardware store where we could stock up on a new percolator, a bag of nails and the local gossip.
When I pass this store, I just want to go in there and dig around in the bins. I want to smell sawdust and glove oil, and I get a sudden urge for a game of catch though exactly none of my kids would indulge that fantasy. I want to be younger and lighter and unencumbered by adult stuff, like bills and knee pain.
This store trades in nostalgia and I am here for it.
I work this store into my route, because if I’m about anything I’m about the rosy colored fog of memory, about the hope of a new season, the joy of a clean record, even a fresh cut 2×4.
And I keep running as much for what it continues to give me, but what it already has given. I run to keep up with the ghosts.