A quiet house

They are all gone. Finally. Ben left for school 40 minutes ago, Joe just left for work after thanking me for the lunch I packed for him, Katey moved out over a year ago. The bed is made, so I’m not tempted to go lie down even though I have a bit of a headache after drinking a whole bottle of white wine last night during dinner and while re-watching Fight Club.

Two dogs, two cats, and me. The house empty in that way you know there will be no sighs, no heavy footsteps, no suggestions about going out for lunch. Empty enough to walk around naked or mumble or sing without worrying who might be watching and listening.

I left the corporate job after 19 years, and I’ve been unemployed for 10 days now. I’ve read a book, painted a kitchen, attended a lecture/reading from a former professor and current neighbor, prepared most of our evening meals. I have not written, and now I don’t know where to begin. People ask, “What are you working on?” and I evade. I say that I’m working on short stories or a young adult novel. Friends encourage me to start a blog on food, on the transition from corporate world to whatever world this will be, on my occasionally funny observations about our suburban lives.

I tell people with complete sincerity that I am scared, that I don’t know if I can be productive and focused without deadlines, structure, a boss to please, a team to lead. I tell them that if it doesn’t work after a year I’ll go back to work of some sort, or we will sell our overlarge house. I try not to take it as judgment each day when Joe comes home and asks what I did all day. I tell my friends with similar incomes and jobs how hard it was to let our housekeepers go after 12 years because I couldn’t bear to be one of those women in a too big house with no job who didn’t sweep her own floors.

I list the things that need to be done — finish preparing the basement for short term rental, going through the paperwork from Joe’s dad’s death earlier this year, weeding, sweeping (four animals produce eddies of fur), changing bed linens, cleaning out closets and drawers, unpacking my box — the single box of photos and papers that are all that’s left after 19 years in that office, handling correspondence and financial planning. Instead of doing those things, I read an article about head transplants in China, pick up a novel by William Gay, play Words With Friends, look up beach houses for fall break in October even though Ben will be with friends.

I write, They are all gone. So it begins.


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