Saturday, November 8, 2008

Things Jacob will never experience

Every year they come out with that list about the "reality" of this year's incoming college freshman...stuff that has always been the norm in their lives, what was going on when they were born, etc. Jacob will always know the internet, might never see a rotary phone, will probably be one of those kids obsessed with cell phones, and might always wonder what those cassette tape things are near the CDs in our house (last used in my old car that had a tape deck). For the record, I am scared to death of bringing up a kid in this technology-based world, because I don't really have a precendent to follow. Cell phones and the Internet weren't popular until I was in college. Jacob will encounter all of that stuff at a much earlier age, and I have no idea how to determine what's appropriate for his age. Lots of internet supervision, I guess, and we'll have to figure out the cell phone thing when the time comes. But anyway...

We've always said that we'd have to tell our kids about September 11th, and who knows how much of Craig's sports career Jacob will be aware of. He wasn't around for one championship, and was a couple months old for the other...so far. There are older relatives (great-grandparents, mostly) that he'll never get to meet. Perhaps we won't be in our current house long enough for Jacob to remember it (we'll see how much stuff we can fit here for now, and decide before baby #2 if we can cram it with more). I'm sure the list can go on and on.

As much as this post could be about something super meaningful, it's actually been inspired by looking at some rather unfortunate pictures of the Aud in Buffalo. The Memorial Auditorium, the Sabres' original home, was one of my favorite places in the world. I liked it so much that I wrote a really long piece about it (somewhere around 25-30 pages) shortly after it closed in 1996. It's still housed at my old website here. I wanted to write down all of the fun stories, complete with random details, so I wouldn't forget them once I was no longer able to go there and remind myself with each visit. Twelve years later, I'm incredibly happy I did. A lot has faded in my memories, as I figured it would. Twelve years later the building is finally facing imminent demolition, and apparently the media was let in for one last tour. Those pictures, as well as some unauthorized ones on theaudclub.com, paint a sobering picture of the inside of this once cherished building. It's been left to rot, from peeling paint and graffiti to mold and bat/rat droppings. Now it's even more torn apart because they've been removing asbestos in preparation for demolition. It's sad. It should have been torn down years ago, though that would have killed me even more then. Now I know it has to go. It's sort of like the difference between losing a loved one suddenly while they're still seemingly healthy or losing them once they've already deteriorated. This is obviously nothing compared to human life, but it definitely echoes my feelings when my grandmother passed away. Before dementia took over, she was vibrant and colorful, very involved with the family, and fun to be around. To lose her in her prime would have been tragic and sad, because there was still the potential for so much more good stuff. However, by the time she died it was incredibly sad to see her in the state she was in, confused and often frustrated. It made the sting of her actual passing less painful, but seeing her get to that point was hard in its own right. The Aud is merely a building, but it was one that held many great memories for me. It laid the groundwork for a love of hockey that led me to where I am in life. As I've said before, without hockey, Craig and I would never have met, and Jacob wouldn't be a part of our lives either. To see it go right after it closed would have been sad for me, because at that time it seemed like they could have done something cool to save it, like they did for the Forum in Montreal. Now it's obvious that there isn't anything still good enough to save in there, because time, unmanaged moisture, small animals, and trespassers have left the building disgusting and useless. I still wish they'd find ways to save certain things, like the big blue scoreboard still hanging above the playing surface, or the classic front facade. Most of the seats are too gross to save, but apparently some have been salvaged for an auction next weekend. Not sure I'd want them impacting the air quality in my home, but...anyway...

It saddens me a bit that by the time Jacob is old enough, that plot of land is going to house a Bass Pro Shop, among other things. I hope it does well there, because God knows downtown Buffalo needs a shot in the arm. But it will be hard to describe the Aud to Jacob someday, and help him understand how electric the building was during a hockey game. Nothing's built like that anymore, with steeply sloped seats that sat right on top of the action. I have a handful of pictures from the final game there, plus whatever might be floating around on the internet, and beyond that a handful of hockey footage (mostly on VCR tapes--however long those will be functional) from inside the building. Of course, he might not even care...but someday I hope he does, because that building built the foundation of a love that his parents share, a love for a sport that eventually led them to a love for each other. Sappy, I know, but true nonetheless. No other hockey building holds memories like that for me, despite having seen plenty of games in both HSBC Arena and the Blue Cross Arena here in Rochester. My BCA memories are of a different sort, and those may be fun to share someday, too, but when it comes to purely joyful hockey memories, the Aud is it. And it's one thing Jacob will never have a chance to see, let alone experience. Bummer.

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