All I saw was the side of a building with a small white graffiti mark on the bottom right corner. But looking at this wall my dad was reminded of the hours, days and years he spent playing wall ball, the only passing partner he ever needed. I grew up hearing stories of the tireless afternoons he spent here, sweat dripping down his face like a popsicle melting in the summer heat. This very wall was where my dad practiced lacrosse every day from the time when he played on a middle school team, to when he played Division I in college. I threw my first ball at the wall, it bounced back and hit me in the head. I was not a tough kid, and would cry at almost anything, but between the fear of disappointing my dad and my desire to connect to his childhood I summoned as much strength as my six year old self could. I did not flinch and I did not cry. Instead I ran to retrieve the ball, and tried about 40 more times. The wall looked tough and able to withstand anything. Constantly being hit with 60mph flying lacrosse balls, the unwashed bricks stood tall and proud, never showing any sign of defeat. As the street, city and world around this wall were modernizing, the cracks of the molding held decades of history. The wall courageously fought through every drenching spring rainstorm, and every glacial blizzard, unbothered by the changes it faced. I drew strength from the wall, and aspired to become a great player just like my dad.
In the summer of 2017, I came home from camp with a crisp tan enveloping my body, and an eagerness to play lacrosse with my dad. We arrived at our spot to find orange traffic roping encompassing the entire area, and a sign that said “CAUTION: WET CEMENT.” The space right in front of the wall was becoming a part of the garage, and would soon be inaccessible. I felt threatened by the bright sign, which was attempting to separate me further from my dad whom I sought desperately to connect with.\
While the memories remained imprinted in my heart, we no longer played lacrosse at the wall. The violent bang of a lacrosse ball against the wall soon turned into the violent hammering I heard outside my window in the mornings. The swift sound of my shooting strings against the wind turned into the racing sound of cars on Park Avenue in the middle of the night. The view of the stars shining over the brick wall at night became dull scaffolding wrapped around every building on the Upper East Side. I became aware of the ever-changing city, whose streets were overpopulated with businessmen and children, and whose land was not big enough to fit everyone’s needs.
The New York City my dad knew was full of old fashioned diners and the sound of people chatting about whatever big sports game was written about in the paper that day. The city I am growing up in did not bear any resemblance to the one I have heard many stories about.