July always finds us spending countless hours at the pool for lessons, free swim and special events. So I found myself in the middle of our 32nd lesson when military jets flew overhead.

Two small boys near me began yelling and counting the jets. It reminded me of the period of time when our teenagers were that age.

We would stand in the yard of the small house we rented watching the jets fly over us. Sometimes I would hope the jets would not fly over when I had our kids, we only had three then, all taking a nap at once. During those stolen moments I would have a very narrow window to sit in the yard watching a ball float in the kiddie pool for a moment of tranquility. The jets would fly over. Everyone was awake.

As I thought about this I realized two things all at once. The first thing: As those jets passed over the yard all those years ago when our teens were still small we were not at war. The second thing: Our youngest do not remember, have never really known, a period of time when we were not at war.

One of the many images that have remained with me these past five years, as I have worked on a novel about a group of young people forever changed by the events of September 11th, was how empty the sky was when no planes were allowed to fly overhead. It struck me as I stood on Lake Monona with a filled stroller that day. I am still moved by the memory of it.

Reminded of my quest for a bit of quiet time those few short years ago when our teens were still babies really, during a period of time when peace was all that we knew, I could not help feel a bit sad for all that we have lost. Then I smiled at the loud cries of the boys.  They looked like performers as they attempted to roar loud as the jets, jumping and dancing around the deck of the pool while their parents wearily looked for the thing we are all in search of–peace and tranquility.


Filed under: ReflectionsTom's Posts

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