When Molly was younger, her family lived on a street that had a polo field for everyone that lived on the street. It had two small baseball diamonds, a soccer field, down the hill there was the playground. With a basketball court in between a swing set on either side, two metal slides next to each swing set, and then a teeter totter. Molly and her friends would play out there until it got so dark you couldn’t see in front of you. Or til your mother called you in for the night.
Sometimes on the weekends, there would be a baseball game or a soccer game happening. Molly and her friends would sit on the bleachers behind the fence behind the one baseball field. They wouldn’t watch the whole game since they didn’t know anyone on either team. Just watch a few pitches and then go down to the swings or if the basketball court was empty, Molly and her friends would play jacks. There was always something to do at the polo field. And plenty of kids to play with.
There was this big thick oak tree that sat on the one side of the swing set closest to the row houses that Molly lived in. The tree acted as a starting point for tag or hide and go seek. It was for when friends were coming over and agreed to meet at the oak tree. A green bench sat on one site of the tree, but hardly anyone sat there. All the kids were too busy playing to sit there.
When it was winter, the kids in the area would bring a big box and flatten it, so they could slide down the big hill. They would go so fast, they would make it to the one swing set to the right of the basketball court. One time, Molly was sliding down the hill on a box and she wiped out and rolled down the bottom of the hill, she was covered in snow. Instead of stopping and going home to put on warm clothes, she stayed outside and her pants froze and she had a hard time walking back to the house. When she did make it home, she took her pants off in the back room off the kitchen. They stood on their own because they were so frozen. Her mom had to wait for the to thaw out before she put them in the washer.
As the years went by, Molly and her friends still spent time on the polo field, but not as they got older. The girls would have slumber parties and go to the mall or go out to lunch. Though Molly would go out and spend time on the bench under the oak tree and write in her diary. She wrote about the time of her first kiss with a neighborhood boy that lived around the corner. They never dated because his mother was very strict and didn’t allow him to spend time with girls. Her friends set up a secret place for them to have their first kiss. It was in an ally way between two stores right by the main street in town. It was just a quick peck on the lips, but Molly was happy because she had a crush on him. A year after that, his family moved away. She knew they were never going to date, so she just happy her first kiss was with him. Then a few years later, Molly and her family moved away. Life was moving on. But she knew someday, she would return to visit, because a few of her friends still lived here.
One weekend after Molly moved away, her friend had a slumber party. It was in the summer and they carried old peanut butter jars with tiny holes in the lid and picked some grass and put it in the jar. It was a contest to see who could catch the most lightening bugs. No one really caught all that many because they were too busy talking to each other about boys. Laughing and giggling too much to notice lightening bugs flying around them. When they lost interest with that, they came inside and made bowls of popcorn and grabbed some soda and sat on the floor in a circle on their sleeping bags and continued to talk about boys. About once a month, they took turns at the places to hold the slumber parties.
When they got to be teenager, they spent less and less time together. Some had boyfriends and lost touch, others started working jobs. They tried hard to stay in touch, but everyone’s interests changed and little by little it was time to find new friends with the same interests. It took her a while, but Molly has a great new circle of friends.
Molly recently went back to the old neighborhood. She parked her car on the same street that she used to live on. Standing at her car for a few moments, looking out onto the polo field, it was different. That feeling of being home wasn’t there. Like she didn’t belong there. She saw that the oak tree was still there, and the bench. She walked over to the bench and sat under the tree. And just sat in the quiet that surrounded her. She smiled because she felt the comfort of sitting with an old friend. The tree has always been there. It could always be counted on like a friend. The tree and her have had some good talks when she was younger. She came to rely on the tree when she didn’t feel that she had anyone to turn to. Molly wouldn’t talk out loud to the tree, just sit and silently talk with the tree, having a feeling that the tree knew what she was saying without saying anything at all.
The oak tree helped her get through some pretty tough times. Sometimes it takes someone you don’t know to help you through something. Could be an object, a tree, the ocean. Whatever gets you though, that is all that matters.