After Maggie goes to her mom’s for the day I’m always taken back by how quiet it is.
After I get home from the errands and the store and have put away the groceries. Shut off the podcast and brought a load of laundry upstairs.
I noticeably hear nothing while putting clean towels away in the bathroom. No TVs talking down in the family room. No cups filling in the kitchen. No movement on beds in the bedrooms. No dresser handles clinking. Nothing but the sounds I, myself, am making.
The black plywood creeks as I walk into my bedroom. The house is so quiet the only thing I hear when I pause is the clock flipping the minutes.
Not long ago there were four of us and three cats. Now there’s just me and two cats. And my phone.
And the clock.
I’ve gotten used to it. The stillness. The quiet. The sound of nothing but myself. It no longer breaks my heart but I always notice.
After I moved out of my mom’s house, and then later after I moved out of my dad’s… I never really thought about what it was like to be them after I left. I was off flying my own adventures and never really looked back.
I know now though. What it’s like to have an empty house. To eat dinner by myself. To go to bed without kids to herd. Without verbally saying goodnight to anyone.
But it can be okay. The sun will still rise in the morning. We really do adjust and adapt so long as we don’t fight the current of where life is taking us.
So when I was in my mid 20s I would go over to my grandmother Mildred’s house at night sometimes. Just to see what she was up to or more likely because I wanted something. 😉
She was almost always in the kitchen, sitting on a barstool, listening to her local NPR station. It seemed like her radio was always yammering on about the Iowa Democrats or political hoopla, something or another.
I never understood why she just didn’t go sit on her couch. It had to be more comfortable than her barstool. But that’s where she liked to be so more power to her. And she always had something on the stove simmering. Sometimes it smelled really good and sometimes it didn’t.
Anyways… After she passed away and after I got divorced from my first wife I moved in to my grandma’s house. I often would sit in that same kitchen, eating oatmeal with raisins, because I was poor, listening to a little FM. It gave me a connection to her when I felt all alone. It wasn’t easy getting divorced at 26. But that’s another story. In my grandma’s kitchen I learned just how awesome public radio is.
So now some twenty odd years later when I’m home alone I spend more time in the kitchen than anywhere else. Listening to WBEZ or some podcast if it’s time for a WBEZ pledge drive. The horror of pledge week, let me tell ya.
I never really thought much about the people I left behind, the people that stayed at home but I do now when I’m sitting by myself.
The people that came before me are the ones that helped make me who I am. They’re the ones that taught me that we can be okay without someone in the next room, without someone filling up their water cup.
I guess when enough gray days are strung together I get all reflective.