We’ve all experienced that feeling—the feeling when you know that you may never return to a place. Maybe it’s a childhood home filled with memories, a baseball field where you hit your first home run, or a classroom that provided you with lessons for a lifetime. Sometimes you’re aware that you may never return to that place, and sometimes you have no idea. Nostalgia is what brings us back to those places, if only in a distant daydream.
For me, nostalgia is the taste of cherry cola and the feeling of the cool breeze pushing back my curls as I sit on my grandparents’ chipped paint wooden swing. Little did I know, the last time I would sway through the air on that swing and return inside to the smell of my nana’s praline and pecan scented candles was an inevitable and impending occasion.
Nostalgia is the feeling of warm sand between my toes and the sound of salsa music radiating from a floating speed boat on the coast of Bocas del Toro, Panamá. I looked at my newfound friends from that study abroad trip and told them, “Absorb this moment. Really feel it and don’t forget it because we will never be in this place with one another again.”
As I conclude my internship here at The Parklands, I realize that I may never have the opportunity to return to the parks. Life happens. I may end up hiking the deserts of Arizona for years to come, or ricocheting between different countries, failing to find my way back to my Old Kentucky Home. Although I would lunge at the opportunity to bask in the wonder of The Parklands again, it is untold if I will ever have that chance.
With that being said, there are many things that I will pack tightly inside my envelope of nostalgia from The Parklands.
A stroll down Country Lane Walk in Beckley Creek Park near the donor fountain gave me a vision of past and future. The trees that parallel one another on the gravel pathway are pulling themselves up into growth and fullness. I could see their beginnings, little branches poking above the earth, curious to see the life among them. I could see their futures, sprawling through the air and filling up the gaps between their neighbors, offering an unforgettable picture of walks down an enraptured passage of green.
The trails I hiked bathed me in nature’s glow. There were no speeding cars down interstates, keyboards clicking, or smartphones ringing. There was only serenity to be found in a cradle of swaying trees, cascading leaves, and cooing birds. I ventured through these trails alone, enjoying the peace and solitude while observing the untouched natural world around me.
I saw the joy on children’s faces as they splashed through Floyds Fork and experienced a world beyond paved streets and rows of residences. I talked with Interpretive Rangers who hold a vast orbit of knowledge about natural life. I saw a unique and extraordinary organization receive generous donations from people who love what The Parklands offers the community.
The next time you are at The Parklands, soak it all in. Remember the sights you see, the people you come across, the paths you walk. These parks are undeniably intended for memory making. Hold on to what The Parklands gives to you. It just might be the last time you’re there.