There is a road, in our community, that starts at the high school and stretches out about 8 miles. Around here we are only concerned about the first 5 miles, because that is the distance to our football stadium where this road takes us, every other Friday night.
Last Friday, our boys lost their third game. Our youngest, Ryder, was working and #47 cares more for college fraternity events than attending a Friday night game of his alma mater. We are now becoming just spectators with no skin in this other than community pride and our relationships with the families of the current players.
Kathy and I walked to our truck, quietly, by ourselves. In the past ten years, the walk from the stadium to our truck involved loud raucous boys messing with each other and talking about the highlights of the game. They may or may not have a friend with them and if they did, the decibel level and the ballbusting, increased exponentially. A few years later it would whittle down to just our youngest walking with us but the discussion would be about him bragging about how well his big brother played. This last Friday night, it was just Kathy and me, and there was only silence.
The drive home was as familiar as any of the multitude of rides we have taken on this road, after a game. It is the quintessential Texas high school, small community feel. The traffic consists of mostly pickup trucks, all adorned with a Cedar Park school sticker for some extracurricular group, such as band or cheer. Our “Cedar Park Football” sticker is still in good shape and stuck to our back window. It has been there for years and I don’t intend on taking it off anytime soon. We put our boys, and our lives through this program for many years; we earned that sticker.
For the most part, Kathy and I were silent. At the risk of sounding arrogant, we are not used to driving home from our stadium after a loss. We have only done it once and that was #47’s first varsity game against Waco Midway but that was a preseason game. We have never done it for a district game. The only discussion was a light commentary on what this team needs to do in order to get back on track. We still have faith they will find their groove. We still believe. It was a somber drive and I think the majority of the occupants in the other vehicles felt the same, as we all made our way home, on this road.
It took us past City Hall on the left and up a ways to the little league baseball fields on the right, where our sons used to play, every spring. You can hear the screams of baseball parents, especially the TBall ones when you drive here on a weekend. They are a loud bunch, those moms and dads cheering for their 5 year olds. The lights of the fields this night, however, were dark but that is expected, Friday is for high school football. We passed the single, 4 light intersection, which is the center of our little community. Most of our lives involve trips to the Walgreens here or the two 7-Elevens that are across the street from each other. Yeah, that is a weird one.
We came upon the Whataburger, next to Sonic. I cannot tell you how many times, after a game, we would wait in line at that Whataburger getting the boys food. We would usually pick something up for #47 for when he got home, as he was usually hungry after games. I think the entire population of the stadium would go straight there, afterward. The teens would be parked in the lot hanging around their cars, throwing a football around. Parents would be in the drive through ordering meals for a carload of kids. It was an impromptu gathering of the community. Tonight, however, we would not partake in this ritual, we would silently pass it by.
At this time I would start wondering, “Are the boys on the bus yet?”. What is #47 talking about with his teammates? Are they talking about the game or what they are going to do for the rest of the night? They will be traveling on the same road, I hope they make it home safely.
Our turnoff to our house is a 1/4 mile from the high school but sometimes I would drive past to see if maybe the busses got back while we were getting food; to see if we can get a glimpse of the boys and our son. I have no reason to do this now; #47 is far away from here and high school football. I am beginning to think, so are we.