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Jacob Hatcher

Empty skies 

By Jacob Hatcher 

Community Columnist  

The house I grew up in is directly under the flight path into the Nashville airport. When we first moved there, the noise was deafening. Every few minutes, all conversation had to halt while strangers made their descent. Over time, of course, we got used to it. We would still hear the planes, but it became part of the everyday routine. 

My friends and I would play football in my front yard until we were about to pass out, then we would lay on our backs in the grass and just look up at the sky. We would watch as little lines shot out from behind the planes. If I was in just the right mood, sometimes I would find myself wondering about the people on those planes. I would wonder why they were flying. Some of them were probably headed home from a long business trip. Some probably had a layover. I imagined there were musicians from all over the world on those planes landing in Nashville for the first time, guitars and dreams all in tow. We would do this all the time. If it wasn’t pouring down raining, we were in my yard.

One day, though, it all changed. After school, instead of playing football, we sat in front of the TV and tried to understand what was happening in the world. Until we couldn’t watch it anymore. One by one, my friends ended up in my yard. We never picked up the football that day; we just laid there in the grass and looked up at the sky. No one said much that afternoon. I could tell we were all processing. 

A handful of teenage boys laid in that grass and looked up at an empty sky. It hadn’t been that empty since the Wright Brothers made their first flight. No dreams were chased that day. No businessmen met their families at the gate either. 

That was the moment I knew the world had changed forever. Then out of nowhere my friend spoke. “Sure is quiet, ain’t it?” “Yeah, it sure is.”