I close the window against the cool night air, pad into the bedroom to find my wool slippers, the warm pajamas. I wish for chocolate, but there’s none here today, either.
Scott and the children have been away for four days—four days without cajoling anyone to do anything. My ambitious plans frittered away to the quiet, to reading a little in the big chair, to picking up a little, here and there, in the messy house. I went to a yarn-spinning retreat for a day, learning the ins and outs of my tiny spinning wheel, learned how very dirty Milo’s fleece is, still, after five washings, learned what to do to redeem that wool. It will take time.
At another point in my life I’d still be spinning that yarn two days afterward, but other deadlines call. I tuck the wheel and the wool in the back of my closet. I write, I read, I organize my mail. I read a new magazine. I finish a letter I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. I sit and enjoy the music for the first time in months, with a copy of The Best of Creative Nonfiction Journal. I pick up a friend at the airport.
What will go, when they return? Quiet will go. Lack of schedule. The absence of need. The absence of urgency. I will be happy to see them, to tuck the little ones into bed, to love them in person instead of by phone. There may be tears of frustration and exhaustion. Or they may go straight to bed.
I remember driving home in the dark, the first nights of fall, cool enough that frost bloomed on the windows of the car. I’d turn my face to the stars, breathe out a haze and draw still more stars, more constellations with my finger on the window, in my back seat, listening to my brothers sleep.
I draw no constellations on my bay window tonight, but I turn off the green banker’s lamp—I keep peeking to see if that noise is my car, pulling into the drive below. I keep imagining I hear their tired voices. I keep peeking to see if the full moon is still so large, or if it has tucked behind a cloud.
It’s hard to say if I miss my family—the quiet evenings are so delicious and long. But I keep finding myself making them up, hearing them in every movement from the street. I keep hoping the children stay asleep enough to go to school tomorrow. But I’ll keep company if they stay home. I’ll have quiet another time. I’ve enjoyed it deeply. I’ll be okay when it ends.
That sound is not my car, whew. Not yet.