Where Did All The Kids Go?
By John R Greenwood
I awoke from a vivid dream shortly after midnight. I don't remember the details of the dream but I do know it was something from my youth. Maybe it took place on the road where I grew up.
All I know is when I woke up I felt an instant need to open a window for some fresh air. It was early May and the temperature hadn't been setting any records for being overly friendly so the windows were all closed. I was feeling warm and a little claustrophobic. I needed to breath some fresh spring out of the night air. I yanked back the curtain and strapped it with the braided cord that hung there. The first word out of my mouth was, "Ahhhh".
I'd only been asleep for an hour or so but for some reason I felt wide awake and anxious for the day to begin. I lay there listening. I was listening for movement-- for some sign of life. I heard none. It was just after midnight on a Friday and there wasn't so much as a curious dog to be heard. It suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't heard a kids voice outside the window in months. It hit me like a brick in the forehead; I never see or hear kids outside anymore--day or night.
Where did all the kids go?
I know they used to exist because I had my own. Plus I used to piss and moan about the ones walking by the house late at night laughing and shouting at the passing cars. I remember running to the window to be sure they didn't whack my mailbox with a stick or plaster it with a paintball gun again. Didn't they know how much I paid for the oversize one with the heavy duty flag?
How ironic it was that I was now craving something that I once tried to quell like that insistent Junebug who keeps dive bombing the window screen and who you keep finger-flicking back out into the night. Maybe I was lonesome for a fix of youth. Maybe I needed a reminder that I wasn't dead yet. Maybe I needed to know the world was still spinning out here?
When I first went to sleep I had been researching something to write about. The subject isn't important it was the fact that I am always craving a subject to write about. I'm always in search mode. I've written about it before. I am never full. Day and night I am looking, peering, asking questions. I am forever starved for the next meal of something to document and share. I can not fill that hole.
As I lie in bed it's now after one in the morning and the sound of silence is pouring in the window begging to be written about. The silence whose voice used to include boisterous teenagers full of life and excess trouble. My mind is wandering again. I guess I'll try to go back to sleep. Maybe I can muster up a dream filled with life's noises; like a pair of teens singing some indiscernible lyrics at the top of their lungs, arms swinging between them hand in hand in the middle of the night.
I felt better, but I still worried if we had gone to far trying to remove the dangers of darkness from our kids. Have we made them so safe that the life we grew up with is passing them by on the other side of the cement safety net we've built? I reflect back to the nights I walked along pitch black roads with the sounds of crickets, bullfrogs, and distant dog barks serenading me from both sides. Those nights where you welcomed a set of approaching headlights just so you could be sure you weren't being stalked by a hungry monster looking for a naive teen-meal on a dark country road.
Peace and quiet caught up to me and I became sleepy again. I clicked a picture or two trying to capture the essence of this piece.
I laid my head back on the pillow.
The words kept coming.
"Where DID all the kids go?"