It’s been awhile. I haven’t been a datergurl in some time because I lived with someone. And it was better than I thought it could be. I would be living with him still were it not for the big reason that I can’t. I would like to tell everyone the big reason that I can’t but it would mean sharing someone else’s private story and as much as I feel okay about sharing the part that’s my own, that part is not mine to share.
What is mine to share is where I am now. I am alone in my house. If you leave out the six dogs that live here also, it’s just me and the vermin.
The best way to describe it is to tell you about my day so far.
I woke up slowly….read some news…checked out facebook. No one talked to me, which is good for me in the morning, especially when I have a day off. Nothing raises my anxiety like the phrase, “What should we do today?” On a day off, my answer needs to be nothing. Not yet anyway. If, as the day progresses there is something I want to do, then great. But first thing in the morning it is nothing…expansive hours of nothing…that soothes my soul.
I got up when the dogs insisted, for not getting up means they might have a poop party in the living room. Under my watch, they go outside. So I got up.
It occurred to me that it is very cold outside and that Natalie’s seedlings might need to come inside. That girl had brought a pepper plant and set it in a windowsill and it was flowering. More unusual, she brought in a tomato volunteer that had also set flower on a counter in the kitchen, in December. When she was here, the dirt she tracked in, all over my clean counters, was an annoyance. But now, what I wanted most was to tend her plants.
As is so often the case, once the power struggle is over – for she is now on Maui – there is room to change one’s mind. I have a built-in cabinet in the dining room and the top is coated in formica. My house is like that because a practical person without much taste did things like that when he owned the house. The formica top sits under a wall of windows. I now understood Natalie’s covert attempts to appropriate that into a nursery for her seedlings. I cleared the area of most of my doodads and placed her seedlings in that coveted spot. I should have done this when she was here, I thought, but it was good to do it now. I will take care of her plants, I said to myself.
For many weeks Dave and I had made keeping the floors swept and mopped a priority. I was finally able to walk barefoot in my house. So I swept the floors and mopped the floors and said to myself that this would need to be an every-other-day affair. I’m keeping those floors, if nothing else. I imagined myself getting out of bed early before work and mopping the floors and tending to Natalie’s plants.
In between the sweeping and the mopping and the tidying I wondered if it would feel like too much, this house alone, as so often it had before with people in it. But with only me to muss things up, I decided it might be doable. If I just keep ahead of the floors.
It is ten-thirty in the morning and this is a time when not having a partner or anyone else here is both a good thing and a giant void. The good thing is I can read in bed or work on some project or stare off for hours and no one will interrupt me. And even better, I won’t feel the weight of feeling like I should be doing something else. It is peaceful and calm and the mental space is forgiving.
But the void. There is nothing here to distract me. No influx of energy, no listening for kids to wake up or wondering what someone else might be up to. It is freeing but also a bit of a free-fall.
More than anything, I am getting the feeling that the world wants me to be alone in this house long enough. Long enough for what I do not know. I am concerned that I might end up just too lonely again but I have to say that now that I am truly alone, loneliness doesn’t seem to be a factor.
For some reason, loneliness was a huge thing when I lived with my kids. There was something about the balance of young energy that overshadowed my own store, something about the never-ending responsibility, the lack of a partner or having a partner that wasn’t the father of my children – it overwhelmed me and I often retreated.
My mother always said that children aren’t a cure for loneliness and she was correct. You love them like crazy, but children are a burden. You can’t make plans to do something kind of fun because someone in the group always decides the activity isn’t fun at all. You can’t plan the good moments. They happen, but it is largely out of one’s control. And the discord can be ear-piercing. It’s just the way it is with kids. There are tears.
I have spent months, years even, both needing my kids to fly, and grieving for the passage of time. How could their childhood be over? How is it that I am no longer raising children? It never occurred to me that it would be over, even on difficult days when I imagined that seeing them go would be a relief. I am not sentimental. It IS a relief. Kids need to move along and spread their wings. But it also brings a person to their knees. In my case, there has been a lot of car-crying. Sobbing in the prius is a thing I do now when I remember my kids as little. I miss them.
Will and Owen are nearby. I am lucky to have a mother more active than I am. She has a great husband who is like a father to me. I have friends. My daughter is only a text away. There are dogs on the bed and I still have Boris my house spider to feed. He has been here three months and I look for him each day.
I will get up and feed the spider and think about what I will and maybe won’t do today. In the weeks to come I suspect I will get used to doing nothing and I will say that I feel relaxed and calm and in control and refreshed. I seize up a little and almost cry thinking about what it will be like here alone, and then I remind myself that I am not unhappy, just a little wobbly. Everything is temporary, and this time alone is no different.