"I never had any friends like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"
- Stand by Me
We had just finished a double-header on a sweltering hot August afternoon. We dumped what was left in our water jugs on our heads and the losing trio would inevitably start bickering about blown calls that cost them the game. It was a time when the outcome of a sandlot baseball game was the most important thing in our lives. We would gather up our bats and gloves and walk down the trails alongside the Rouge River as we headed home for one air conditioned basement of Millwood or another, where summer nights of cold sodas and video games awaited us, the sun sinking beneath one of those pink August skies and the woods quickly darkening.
I knew those trails and those woods like I once knew the statistics on the back of my Steve Yzerman hockey card. When I went back to those woods this summer, just to see the old sandlot again -- a pastime that has sadly decreased in frequency over the years -- I realized that many years had passed since I had been back there, that place where we spent our formative years, and that I barely knew some of those guys now. And I wondered if I was to blame for that. The trails that we used to take to the sandlot through the woods were almost unfamiliar to me now, and I knew that no matter how much I wished otherwise, things would never be the same.