This morning, like many mornings since Jake crunched his car, I drove the boy to school.
As we turn into the school driveway, the high school lies to our right, and the outdoor soccer fields where Ri and Matt play soccer lie to our left. Every morning there is someone huddled on the far end of the aluminum bleachers, a solitary figure in dawn’s morning mist. I’ve assumed it’s a student, and it makes me a bit sad. What makes a teenager seek out such a lonely, uncomfortable place, day after day? The fields aren’t school property; is it a smoker having a last cigarette before heading to school? Are they looking for a moment of peace which can’t be found at home?
This morning I notice another lonely figure on the bleachers on the opposite side of the field, and my heart breaks a little. Two lonely kids with the same idea, the soccer field a world of space between them. Maybe they are enjoying their morning quiet, but they seem so disconnected from everything else, and I wonder if they are alright; if they are OK.
“Oh, that makes me sad,” I say to Jake.
“Those kids alone over there at the fields. Why do you think they sit over there? It’s so sad. They must be so cold.”
Jake squints at the fields, “I don’t see anyone…”
“Right there, ” I say, “at the end of the bleachers. I guess it’s a student; they’re always there. And today there’s another kid on the bleachers way across the field.” Sad.
“On the bleachers?” Jake asks.
“Yes. Right there, honey. Right there!”
“Mom. Those are trash cans.”
I squint for a better look, Jake’s observation prompting me to put together what I know from years of my boys playing soccer on those fields. Attached to the far end of each set of bleachers is a metal trash can on a heavy wooden post.
My sudden burst of laughter comes out as a snort through my nose.
Jake seems to want to give me the benefit of the doubt. I’m not sure why. Trash cans. Maybe he’s just confounded by an observation so glaringly off-target?
“I guess… it could look like a person.” He squints again, closing one eye and tilting his head up and to the side. He looks a bit like a happy one-eyed drunken eagle. “The aluminum can could be a body.” Another tilt of the head. “It’s foggy. And the big wooden post looks sort of like a head…..maybe?”
This makes me laugh even harder, and tears stream from my eyes. I shake my head from side to side, “No!” I squeak out. “No, it doesn’t!”
Now that I realize what I’ve been seeing, it looks nothing like a person. For months I’ve been worrying about lonely trash cans.
If I knew where my glasses were, I might consider wearing them.