Every single time I pick up this round, rubber casing that used to be a basketball; I can’t help but to smile. The full grain leather cover is long gone. The days of shooting around with this ball are long gone, but I could never forget them. The sight of this old, worn, ragged ball leaves me wishing I could make more memories with it. However, when I clutch it closely, I realize that the memories it has helped make in years past are enough.
It all started in 2000 with an oddly shaped present on Christmas morning. When I tore off the wrapping paper at the break of dawn that morning I was elated to find my first basketball. I’m not sure I was even done unwrapping presents when I went outside to the driveway to shoot the first of thousands of shots I’d take with this ball. My dad followed me out and indulged my excitement. Shot, after shot, after shot. A boy getting to shoot around with his father. It seems so simplistic and boring, but what is better than that? It’s incredible how tangible things have the ability to hold so many intangible memories and emotions that time cannot touch. Long after the object is used up and worn out, like my ball, it still is a valuable sentiment. In this sense an object gains true value as the monetary value depreciates. I wouldn’t trade the beaten, battered ball for a new one with Michael Jordan’s signature.
As I hold this shell of a ball and toss it in the air mimicking a shot, I remember all the games that were played by my friends and I. With that ball. In the driveway. Everything was simple and meaningless. My friend Scott and I played 1 on 1 until we couldn’t stand up. We were all silly children obsessed with a game. The biggest worry we had was when we had to race to retrieve my ball out of the ditch that parallels the driveway before it reached the drainage pipe that runs under my street.
Now we are a group of college students and even a married man. We’re scattered geographically and in walks of life. But at one time we were all kids that played with a basketball so much that it lost its leather cover and become a ball of fuzz (I then dubbed the ball Mr. Fuzz). And we kept playing with that ball of fuzz until it became the rubber casing it is today. The ball is my escape to that time of life. There was no burden of school in 2nd grade. When I pick the ball up it’s like I’m living that burden free life once more. It takes me back to my driveway no matter how far I am from home.
I’m sure the ball isn’t even an afterthought to my friends. If they saw it today, they may not remember it. But to me it’s everything. I can’t forget about it. The three or four times I’ve bought a new basketball since I received that one I know that Mr. Fuzz will be more special. We all have these items that take us back “to the good ole days.” For my friend Scott, maybe it’s the pool paradise that is his back yard where we swam every summer. For my friend Josh, maybe it’s the football he brought to every football game we played. For my friend Jon, maybe it’s the Playstation we wasted hours of time on. For me, it is a beat up basketball. It takes me back to a time and place near to my heart. I would trade many objects of my affection for the chance to actually go back to Christmas morning, reopen that package, and shoot with my dad in the driveway. Unfortunately, that isn’t physically possible. Fortunately for me, Mr. Fuzz takes me back in a way that no other object can.