Eight years ago, when I moved into the Humble Abode that I have called home for longer than any other before, I found myself living in amidst a bastion of sports noises; sounds that were simply music to my ears.
Outside my bedroom window, the boys would be in the batting cage every morning, ripping into pitches over and over until the callouses on their hands were sore. Ping … Ping … Ping … Ping.
It was my alarm clock, my reminder that the world was alive and it was time to get out of bed and join the fray.
Later, in the afternoon and early evenings, I would hear the repetitive sound of a basketball striking the pavement, knowing the boys had invited friends over, the hoops had been lowered to eight feet and a massive game of Dunk Ball was going on in the driveway underneath me.
I never knew who won or who lost, only when a foul was committed as the offending player would body check another into the garage doors, shaking the building, my apartment included.
But I never cared.
How many times in my own glory days was I out in a driveway in Orrington, Maine, playing the same games with my friends, competitive to the end?
Out back, just behind the cabana, is the swimming pool and year after year, the summer months were filled with the splish and splash that you wondered if Bobby Darin was taking a bath. Friends, family, countrymen — lend me your pool; I’ve come to cannon ball Caeser, just to bury him.
It was just a few short years ago that the boys finally grew big enough to climb up on the fence and then onto the top of cabana, leaping high and far into the deep end of the pool.
Teenage daredevils to the highest degree.
The sounds were pure joy. Sports. Friendship. Family. Summer. Life.
This summer, the silence is deafening.
The boys — who are actually my landlords’ two boys — are pretty much grown now.
One is off in Utica, N.Y., playing in a summer college baseball league, prepping himself for his sophomore year of college baseball; the other is working his tail off this summer to help pay for his final year in college.
The batting cage was long ago packed up and put away. The basketball hoops stand erect at each end of the drive way, silent tributes to games and memories gone by. The pool is blue in color and — perhaps — blue in sadness that it doesn’t get the action it once did when everybody was young and summer meant having fun and playing games.
This summer — the Summer of 2015 — is silent outside the Humble Abode; the latest change that, as I grow older and the fall season of my life becomes more clear, reminds me that so much is changing around me.
I don’t like it, but I’m helpless to stop it.
An basketball sits out on the lawn, yearning to be played it. But the boys are busy. They’re growing up.
Life is changing and they’re building their future.
Life is moving forward and it is doing it silently.
But, like I said, the silence is deafening.