Monday, August 31, 2015

The Quiet Sense of Something Lost

The quiet sense of something lost.  -- Alfred Lord Tennyson

The world is too quiet without you nearby.  -- Lemony Snicket


The house is empty, quiet. The squeak of loose boards on the stairs and the floor caused by the inconsiderate footfalls of boys has disappeared. The endless rain of endless showers has stopped. Their doors are solidly shut to keep a thieving, grieving, dog from stealing the socks without mates that were left behind.

My boys have returned to college. The only sounds I hear are the ones I make.

It is the last Monday in August, the last day of the month and the last day, I have read, of meteorological summer.  Yet the electronic thermometer above my desk tells me it is ninety degrees outside.  So much for the end of summer and the beginning of school. The weather is conspiring to make the return to academics feel wrong somehow.

Of the twelve months in a year, my boys are home for just four of them now. They spend two-thirds of their year living elsewhere. From now until the end of the college year, they will be home for just about one month - a week at Thanksgiving, two at Christmas and another sometime in the spring. Not enough time to get used to their inconsiderate footfalls late at night and their endless showers in the morning. Not enough time to get used to buying cold cuts, cartons that hold two dozen eggs, and two boxes of cereal each week.

I won't need any of those things when next I shop for groceries. The receipt will be shorter. The cost will be half of what it was just last week. The refrigerator will have no leftover sandwiches from the deli.  The cupboard will have no Nutella or M&M's. Deciding the dinner menu will be infinitely easier. Cleaning up will take half the time. The dishwasher will be empty of glasses and he counters will be free of wrappers and boxes.

The tidiness of silence.

Ended, though, are the debates about who will take out the trash, walk the dog, haul the recycling to the curb. We will have to do those thing now although there will be less trash and far less recycling. Ended are the tussles about shoes left all over the house for the dog to steal, rearranged furniture, and laundry washed, but forgotten in the machine. There will be no more appeals for a couple of dollars for pizza or mini golf or the movies, no more fights about who gets the car and complaints about who has to park the cars one or the other left on the street. The car went with them back to college.

So, for now, there is only the silence cut by the hum of the ceiling fan and the occasional whimper of a dreaming dog or the slamming of the mailbox with the daily delivery. The phone has not even broken the silence of this last Monday in August, this last day of a once noisy month. 

These boys, well, these men, have gone back to college, back to their books, their friends, and the life we know nothing about - and probably don't want to know about. They have taken their noise - and my heart - with them, but we have text messages and email and telephone calls to hold back the tide until they return. 

After all, home is the place, when you have to go there, we have to take you in.

And this shall always be home, but they shall not fill it with their noise soon enough. 

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in. -- Robert Frost.