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Post details: Under the Lollipops

Under the Lollipops

The soccer stadium in my hometown, Hradec Kralove, is called "Under the Lollipops" for the characteristic shape of its lights. I haven't been there in 25 years. Either the team was floundering in the Czech second league, or my schedule left me stranded elsewhere in the world. Last year the team finally made it back into the first league, so during my regular summer trip back home, I took a trolleybus #2 and visited the old stadium in the Malsovice district. It hasn't changed much. The lollipops were still there, and with them most of the infrastructure built in the heyday of communism. When I sat down at the spot I used to take in my high school years, an eerie sensation swept over me. I felt strings that haven't been played for a while sounding out from deep under the hood.

Every musician will tell you that bass line is critical for the harmony. No matter what your solo guitarist may think, if the bass player starts riffing in F, there is no point fiddling with any other key. In a sense, our psychology is like that, too. We may have various predilections, experiences, fears and ambitions, but at the end of the day what determines our personalities are our own bass strings - the rafters of our inner harmony - the oldest memories reaching deep into the past, often partially obscured by the horizon of childhood.

I used to come here with my grandfather from whom I got my soccer genes. We would sit in these stands and watch our little provincial team struggle against the big sides from Prague. They haven't always prevailed, but they were our boys nonetheless and we were their loyal fans. Forever connected in some fundamental way that psychologists love to write thick tomes about.

My hiatus from this stadium was so long that one of the old team's best strikers had a grown son on the field. A quarter century is a quarter century. But every now and then it is important to return to the places from our far past and tune those all important bass strings in our soul. Or, more precisely, let the memories do the job. And so as I sat on the familiar cheap plastic benches and watched my favorite team eke out a 1-0 victory, somewhere deep in my mind the giant lollipops were working their magic like prods of a tuning fork.

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