My apartment in Oz overlooks a large fenced playing field (actually, two) which also has a small playground and buildings for male and female bathrooms. On Saturdays and Sundays, I love waking up, making coffee, and sipping it while watching soccer games being played on the adjacent field. Sometimes there are men playing, looking very serious, and occasionally I have a great view of a corner kick from my den window. Every once in a while I wish there would be a fight, just for my entertainment, though I wish no one any harm.
Sometimes there are little boys playing, with the requisite parents on the sidelines cheering on their progeny. Those times I reminisce about the days I watched my little brother’s soccer games back home. The brisk mornings of hot chocolate and sliced oranges, the pride I felt when he blocked a goal or scored one.
During the week, the field is empty. One time I saw a young father on the playground with his children and his father, three generations there while mum is…where? With another child? Getting her nails done? Taking a bath? Taking a breath?
There is the occasional kite-flyer or dog-walker. It always makes me smile when I see a spry Border Collie bounding after a ball, or today, a portly little Staffy playing with his human. Despite a violent incident that mars the field’s harmonious history, it is a happy place. It is a vast space that is empty, yet full of memories. It sits waiting for the stamping of little feet; for the thundering race of big feet toward victory; for the whistles and cheers and calls of its visitors.
The field is also a cut-through from a main road and the train station on the other side. So I also observe uniform-clad pre-teens and teens making their way home from school, or sometimes a man with his briefcase in hand. Today, in between on-again, off-again rain and the portly Staffy, was a girl probably about 15 years old, ambling through in her dark navy uniform, cigarette in hand. While puttering around in my apartment, I noticed from the window in the bedroom that she had stopped just behind the male restroom building to finish her smoke unseen from the road and the row of houses on the other side. I see you, I thought. I see you sneaking that smoke before you go home.
I thought of myself. Sneaking that smoke before going home. Thinking you’re getting away with it, and sometimes you do and I did. Maybe she did. Maybe she rolled into her house and mum’s nose didn’t detect the stink of tobacco smoke on her. But it’s only a matter of time, really. You always get busted.
Which got me thinking. What is the field if not an analogy of the world? Battles won and lost. Experiencing the adrenaline of achievement and the sulking swagger of defeat. Pulling the wool over. Deception. And innocence. Teamwork and independence. Entertainment. Ecstasy. Entwinement. Escape.