Near my front door, separated by a brick wall that supports a small roof protecting those entering the house from the weather, is a bench, one of my better buys (Lowe’s), of painted cast aluminum that never rusts and is always comfortable, even without its all-weather nylon pad. It is tucked in between the brick wall and an azalea bush now in bloom. It faces the street and sidewalk at the end of my L-shaped driveway. Mostly it sits empty, like an empty throne.
In the wee hours of warm summer nights, say about 3–4 am, I am often awake, having gotten enough sleep by then. In those times, I often sit out on the bench, in the dark, in my underwear, look at the stars, and contemplate what I have learned in living most of my life—and thinking how I would like to spend the time I have left exactly where I am.
A man alone with his thoughts.
The neighbors’ houses, all up and down the block, are dark, everyone gone to bed, the timers having long since turned off the post lights, the sun-charged LED path lights having used up their charge. No cars pass in either direction, not even a police car on patrol, and only an occasional vehicle on Concord Pike, one street over. The daytime joggers and dog walkers are asleep in their beds. No one is dropping their children off at the daycare center across the street. Even if someone walked by, they would not likely notice me sitting in the shadows. I would be tempted to shout out, “Boo!” just to see their surprise at seeing an old guy in his underwear that late at night. I can also look a little crazy, often without even trying.
I sit in the warm summer air and imagine someone else someday sitting in the same spot, looking at the same stars, maybe even having the same thoughts—an unknown kindred spirit.
As the first light of dawn appears, I go back inside. I am not an exhibitionist.