Not to be confused with a family getaway, my family went on a go-away this weekend. That left me to play the role of wife and mother of two young children, who had the house all to herself.
When Grandma asked which weekend the kids could visit, I promptly booked the same one my husband had planned a trip with his friends. My family was so looking forward to their own adventures, they were clueless that I was trying to get rid of them.
Not that I was, really. Me wanting to be alone is not the same as wanting my people to go away. I didn’t specifically want my family to leave, but it was the only way I could have no one around me. And I wanted so badly wanted that, if even just to see if it was possible.
At first the quiet sounded as though the little-girls-giggles, shrieks, and tattles that normally fill the house might cut through the still air at any moment. I sat listening expectantly. It took half of the first day to settle into the silence. Once I accepted it, I couldn’t get enough. I rolled around in it like a dog in snow, took over-sized bites of it, and rubbed it all over my skin. I remarked aloud to nobody how gorgeously quiet it was, standing in the middle of the living room feet slightly apart, knees bent, shoulders slumped with my arms at my sides, hands turned upright like I was holding something heavy, my eyes rolled back, my head tilted towards the ceiling, mouth agape, as though I was being knocked over by how much I couldn't believe how awesome it was. “It’s sooooooo quiiiiiehhhhhht,” I said in slow motion.
When my husband goes out of town for work, I turn the house upside down. I organize and devise new storage systems that revolutionize the inner workings of our home to the extent he requires a tour upon his return, to show him all the new places I've found to hide all of our crap. When the children go to stay at Grandma’s, my husband and I either tear a hedge row out of the yard, remodel or pressure wash something. With both my husband and the kids not around to slow me up, I could have set a record-breaking productivity high. Deep clean the kitchen, clear the gutters, alphabetize the socks.
But I did none of those things.
I thought instead I would go out to eat for every meal, see a movie by myself, and make plans with friends.
I didn’t do those things either.
Because once I heard how quiet my house was, I was afraid to miss a single minute of it.
I was in my pajamas forty-one out of forty-six hours. I lounged in bed until nine-thirty, two days in a row. I planted my happy ass on the couch and read, and drank tea, and read, and wrote, and read, and drank tea and wrote. Hallelujah.
I moved slowly, took full, deep breaths and noticed how much time I took to do things when there was no one around needing me to rush through the me things and get to the them things. At the sink, I let my hands feel the running water turn from cold to hot. A wet, sharp silkiness wrapped itself around my fingers, sending prickly shivers to my elbows. A liquid coat of soothing warmth slowly replaced the chill, then shifted quickly into a stabbing, pulsing heat that first shocked, then relaxed me from my nerves to my bones. I saturated a washcloth and held it, sopping and heavy, on my flattened palms then clenched my fists and wrung until my grip loosened all the drops that would let go. I brought the steaming cloth to cover my face, and pressed my hands against my cheeks and took full, deep breaths.
The luxury of getting away from it all is nothing compared to the luxury of having everyone get away from me. Just for the weekend. Once, no maybe twice, a year.