An Empty House
I get a couple of responses every year when the kids go to visit their grandparents.
One is what you’d expect: “oh it must be so nice to get some time to yourself.”
Another: “you must just miss them like crazy!”
Or another: “is it just so quiet in your house?”
And . . . well . . . yes.
The house is empty. But like so many things in your life there are no absolutes.
The house is absolutely quieter . . . most of the time. However, the callouses on my hands are the toughest and my fretting fingers the strongest they’ve been in a long time. This is because of the ability to take an amplifier and my beloved green Stratocaster (affectionately named “Dot”) and turn it to 12. (Yes, my amplifier goes to 12. Take that before you fire at me with your Spinal Tap sarcasm) That, in turn, makes the house really, really loud. Louder even than when the kids are here. It’s an attempt to finish off the songs I’ve written and get them in demo form so eventually, in the next year or so, I can record them as a new record. Will that happen? Hell. . . I don’t know. I’m living day by day.
Yes . . . I miss the kids like crazy. Technology’s a great thing. I can see them every night as I call via FaceTime and talk to them. Problem with that is the fact that when I do video conference them the boys lose their minds and go all crazy. It’s like photo bombing your sister’s prom photos only on a second-by-second basis. I don’t know what possesses us to make faces and ham it up for the camera but 11-year-old boys do it in spades.
There are days that are harder, of course. Father’s Day alone isn’t a lot of fun. But I get the satisfaction of knowing that they’re with my father, which makes me happy. I share my birthday with my daughter and that’s not easy, either.
But the one thing that hits home more than missing the kids, more than anything, is that it’s just me in the house. It’s not the cooking for one – which is odd since you end up with leftovers that last a few days. It’s not the silence, that’s pretty pleasant in the morning. I’ve actually read the newspaper and my over-abundance of National Geographics I’ve had stacking up.
I’m reminded, though, of what it could have been. If my kids had all visited and my wife was still here, I mean. It’s tempting to put a beautiful face on that and get melancholy. The reality, though, is that my girls used to visit. After about four hours my wife started asking those very questions above. She hated being away from the kids. Where we could have had opportunities to spend time together, enjoy each others’ company, take an overnight trip to Napa or San Francisco . . . we squandered those moments.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit and worry about missing my wife and bemoan the “what-if’s” of my life. I did that a couple years ago. I don’t really do that now. I’ve used the opportunities to travel to LA or go to a conference in San Francisco or even to buy dessert for a beautiful woman in the corner of a jazz club, randomly. I also take the opportunity to work and take classes that enhance my job and do research and write at home.
It was time, I decided, not to waste the opportunities.
Sure, I could sit and watch every episode of “24” in as many waking hours as I could muster. But what example have I given my children if I squander the time I have? That’s not just when I’m alone, it’s when I’m with them, too.
So yes . . . the house is empty. That doesn’t mean it’s sad, quiet, or even boring. In fact . . . it’s quite the opposite. Even when they’re here with me.