Barbara: I almost called this post The Empty Nest because that is the ubiquitous term for what my home now is. I have nothing against the expression. A nest is cozy, potentially nurturing, a little be-fuzzed cradle of warmth and protection. But it is also just an expression … and as a result, kinda devoid of substance and evocative meaning.
The real honest truth is that—after a summer of both kids home, with their attendant messes and noises and thrown-around stuff—the house is as lovely as ever, more lovely maybe (because it’s really clean), but now it is echoey quiet.
Two rooms just sitting there, doing nothing.
I knew this day was coming. Of course, I’ve talked about it here on these very pages many times. You’ve comforted me through a bunch of baby steps leading up to this moment—and this moment, in many ways, is just a baby step itself, as both girls still officially live at home while they have their adventures in other parts of the world.
The sweetest part in the “bittersweet” aspect of the girls leaving is that they are both off on grand adventures. Adventures of a lifetime. One at school in Montreal, one in Paris doing what she loves. Is there anything more wonderful than having an adventure? When you get older you begin to get a bit nostalgic for those days of “anything can happen”, “every possibility exists”. Many years of responsibility and living the hardened reality of the choices you made long ago sometimes gets you believing that “possibility” is just a possibility for the young. Of course, that is wrong. And kinda dumb.
So, in my newly quiet house, with my newly freed-up schedule (not that the girls took up a lot of my time, but it’s strange how our beloveds’ priorities so quickly become our own), I have decided to remind myself—daily—that life does have a bookend-ish symmetry to it. The baby/old person symmetry is familiar to all of us, right? But what of the symmetry between the fledgling adult, yes, “flying the nest” and the once-vigilant, protective, hatchling-free adult now able to “fly the nest” themselves? I’m not going to leave my home. No, I’m good here. But I am going to take my own needs into my hands and have my own adventures.
Between you and me, my number one priority will be to write. Write, write, write. This is the magic space for me. It is the one thing I do that consistently makes me feel goooooood. But I will also workout, do yoga, meditate. And I will also get all my “real” work done (because there’s still a lot of that to do). How am I going to make sure I do all of this? I have … get this … made myself a serious schedule. I mean, even breakfast, shower, and walking the dog is on that list. Why? Well, I’m a disciplined person, I’ve always gotten everything done that needs to get done, but I know myself well enough to remember that I will prioritize everything else first and leave my own magic, healing, and freeing activities until, very often, there’s no time for them at all.
So, yes, my house is super-quiet right now. But if you’re looking for me, I have a bit of an adventure to take. Me and my super-quiet house. I’ll touch base when my schedule frees up (I’m thinking between 10 and 12 and 3 and 4. Oh, and maybe in the evening…). I’ll, as always, let you know how it goes!
Deb: Barb, you have the greatest attitude and it will reward you, I promise. We were empty nesters four years ago, as you know, and it cut to the quick at the beginning, but as I wrote four years ago, it became something else, something sweet, something romantic, something different. We missed Luke every single day, but it started to feel right. It felt like the right time for him and for us. And now these four years later, he is coming home and he is bringing the girl. So I guess the biggest comfort I can be is to say to you, “It will hurt and it will be creative and it will be fixed and it will change and it will hurt you and it will be your saving grace.” Peace with it is what I wish you.