This past weekend I visited my hometown of Glen Ellyn, IL. The first friend that I ever had is sick. I wanted to see him. Whenever anyone tells me that they won't visit someone that they love because “I don't want to remember them like that”, I question their maturity. It isn't about you. We talked about cars, trucks, life and family. We went over my engine reports together. We just talked and it was good. Remember, that it is OK to cry. This isn't easy.

Our grandparents were next door neighbors. Our moms were like sisters living next door to each other. Then we lived next door to each other. There used to be lilac bushes between our houses. They are gone and the driveways are bigger. Behind my old house the lilacs were the fences. At the back of the old property is a tall fence. It takes up less space than the lilacs did. Somehow over the 40 years since I left space became more valuable than lilacs. I still think that lilacs are more valuable.

The Illinois Prairie Path – www.ipp.org – was the first rail trail and it ran through my hometown along the old Aurora and Elgin line. On Saturday morning I went for a 6 mile run on it. It has been over 40 years since I started running on that trail. The decades have slowed my stride, but increased my wisdom. Back then, I glided past most of the other runners. Today most of them glide past me. I wondered what would happen if the young me passed the old me. What would the young me think? Where I am now, is not where I thought I would be 40 years ago, but it isn't bad. I hope that the young me would appreciate the old me.

A trip to my hometown would not be complete without walking to my old high school. My friend and I were both graduates of Glenbard West, class of 1977. Looking back, I should have appreciated it more. We often referred to it as the dump on the hump. Today, I look at it with admiration. It seems like most schools are built for modern efficiency. Glenbard West is a solid classic.

Then it was time to walk down to the track. Who knows how many times I ran around that oval? I meandered around the bleachers. The surface has been replaced. The mile has become 1600 meters. Lake Ellyn is still there. People still run and walk laps around it. Next time, I will do the same. It will just take twice as long as it did 40 years ago, but that is OK.

I stood and looked at the “cafeteria” hill behind the school. As a kid we ran repeats up that hill as our speed work. I looked at it. I thought about it. I did it. My heels never touched the ground. For that trip up that hill this 57 year old man was that 16 year old kid. At the top, you can look out over the track, the football field and the lake. As I enjoyed the view and gasped for air, I remembered that I am a 57 year old man. It isn't that bad. Life is good and it is precious. Don't waste it.
 

Comments (5)

Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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Great piece Jeff. Well done.

June 21, 2016 10:57:30 AM

Great piece Jeff. Well done.

June 21, 2016 10:56:48 AM

Thanks Craig: Glen Ellyn is 23 miles west of Chicago and the Chicago Northwester RR runs through it. It went through a period of skyrocketing land value. Many of the homes that were around mine were bought for the land and torn down - only to be replaced by larger homes on the same lot. My home, Sam's home and the schools that we went to remain largely unchanged, Yes, definitely brings back great memories. Funny how we can remember so much and be brought back in time and how reflective that it makes us.

March 25, 2016 12:15:16 PM

I forgot to mention that I'm sorry for the reason you needed to visit your home town. I hope your childhood friend gets better.

March 25, 2016 8:35:10 AM

Excellent article Jeff. Interesting timing too because just last weekend I was back in my home town. It was a great place to grow up, safe and had many things to do to keep kids out of trouble. I look at it today and wonder why things change so much. It isn't the same place I grew up and that's sad to me, but change is inevitable. The economy has tanked, and with the loss of stable jobs the community has went down hill. The buildings and roads are increasingly falling into disrepair. The community is probably 1/2 the size it was when I grew up but I still have great memories.

March 25, 2016 8:33:09 AM