A relic of fold-up chairs and flying dirt

As my son packs his room, he tosses aside an old soccer trophy. I brush my finger along the marble and recall all those weekend games, the grass worn away in front of the net.

My son is moving out of the house for the second time. Last year, it was into a dorm, so he could take only the bare necessities: a few pairs of pants, shorts, shoes, socks, a couple of T-shirts, a laptop, and required school supplies.

This year, he will have his own bedroom plus the common area he will share in a large town house. He can bring all his stuff if he wishes - 19 years of accumulation. But sift through it he does, dividing the "yes" pile from the "maybe" from the "no."

I try to stay out of his way. I feel the excitement of independence emanating from him, the scent of imminent freedom seeming to rise from his pores. I remember well when I was his age and living on my own. He doesn't need his mother to tell him what to take.

"Is there anything here you want?" he asks me, indicating the stuff he doesn't want. At first glance, there is nothing I care to keep.

"You might be able to sell them," I say of a plastic bin of baseball cards.

"Yeah, maybe," he says, without much interest. The baseball cards, like the appeal of the game itself, are remnants of his younger days.

"You don't want these?" I ask, retrieving one of the soccer trophies from the "no" pile. The gold figure atop a marble base kicks a ball.

I brush my finger along the marble, and dust dissipates into the air, reminding me of all those weekend games, the grass worn away in front of the net, dry dirt flying with every shot on goal. Later in the car, his cleats holding onto clumps of soil, he'd recap the game, animated by the competition.

"I didn't care about them when I got them," he says.

No, he didn't, I remember. He only wanted to eat the pizza and drink the soda and hang out with his friends at the end-of-season parties, not needing a trophy to remind him of the thrill of the game or whether they'd had a winning season.

The trophies were handed out for the parents really, an award for sitting on fold-up chairs in all kinds of weather, month after month, listening to shouts of "pass" and "shoot" from the overzealous adults on the sidelines.

I don't need the trophy anymore either. But I can't bear to put it back in its pile. So I don't.

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