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Lonely! Lonely in the fog!

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.




15 thoughts on “Lonely! Lonely in the fog!

  1. I’m going to be tastelessly intrusive into your business for a moment and suggest that you may have been projecting a lonliness that you yourself feel into those ambiguous figures in the fog.

    As the Talmud says (somewhere!),
    We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.

  2. dullgeek,

    I am sure critical information would be needed before you make an opinion of the situation as being sad. My question is how do you find out if the person would prefer to be alone and they enjoy the solitude, and they are happy, if you never approach them to ask? If I approached a person with my pastry and hot chocolate and they told me that they preferred to be alone, I would graciously apologize for breaking into their solitude and leave. Thinking to myself, well I tried, now for some yummy treats. I think I would do the same thing when I realized they were in fact trashcans and I think I would just sit at the other end of the bleachers and eat my pastry and drink my hot chocolate in solitude. Until Katie arrives just to say hi or chooses not to approach me, for fear of disrespecting my privacy and choice. Thank you Katie.

    1. andrea

      I’m of the opinion that behavior speaks louder than words. If a person is completely by himself out in a field, then he almost certainly wants that.

      If that same person is on the outside of a crowd and is looking in, then I’d guess he’s lonely.

      But I don’t know how to assess people’s feelings. They’re often more complex than anyone can discern – even the person who is having them. So I could be totally wrong. My point was that I thought it funny to conclude something w/o all the relevant facts. My reaction to the situation would have been to wonder IF they were lonely or happy. Not to conclude that the scene was sad. But that’s just me.

  3. This sounds like something my wife would do: conclude that there’s a problem before knowing some critical facts. When I was reading this, I was thinking “But what if that ‘person’ really *likes* being alone? What if they come from a huge family and that’s the ONLY time the get to be alone. Don’t you need to know that kind of thing BEFORE concluding that the situation is sad?”

    Another salient fact that might be handy: is that actually a person?

    Anyway, I laughed at this, but I think for a different reason than you intended.

    Re: respecting the trash can’s privacy, LOL!!!

  4. It takes a graceful, peaceful soul to have the courage to respect a trashcan’s privacy.

    You’re not dorky – as Yoda would say,

    “A wise and brave soul, you are.”

    (Awesome story, once again – thank you!)

  5. well, that is very thoughtful of you not wanting to invade their space. I admire your sense of respecting the trashcans wish to remain alone. Maybe in a very backwards way instead of respecting their boundries, I just bluder right in there just sure that they would love some company.

    I excell at dorkness.

  6. Katie,

    It is so wonderful to read your blog. I probably would have done the exact thing you did, feeling sorry for those kids and their lonliness. However, I probably would have bought them some hot chocolate and a warm pastry, walked over to them and try to break their lonliness, even for a moment, with something to eat and hopefully someone to talk with about nothing inparticular. When I got close enough and discovered they were trash cans, I would have to sit down because I would be laughing so hard. After I get it back together, I would drink the hot chocolate and eat the pastry, sitting next to the lonely trash cans. I would think to myself, what a great person I am to keep those trash cans company, even for a moment.

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