Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Quiet is Deafening

Life is lonely these days. Four out of five of my kids have grown and flown the nest. I am left here in the family house knocking around from room to room with my last remaining high schooler. I remember visiting my grandparents' big Brooklyn house with the wrap-around porch on Sunday afternoons, wandering up to the third floor and wondering why there were several rooms closed off and unused. It seemed spooky and musty and tomb-like up there, and I remember promising myself I would never close my house off like that.

But these days I do just that. The boys' rooms on the first floor have been long since transformed into guest/TV rooms and I mostly keep those doors closed to avoid having to clean them very often. Two out of three girls' rooms are also vacant, their former occupants off at college elsewhere. My youngest dwells in a room three closed doors away from mine and, although we often find each other at the kitchen table, we each sense the quiet, like an unexpected and unwanted new tenant. Where there were kids, there were always MORE kids, friends of each who I would find everywhere in the house, and especially in my refrigerator, feeling at home enough to raid it at will.

I am a single parent at present, and that lonely state of being amplifies everything else. I long for noise. For mess. For dirty dishes, questionable jokes and raucous laughter. I miss seeing the sleepy faces of all my children as they stumble down to Cheerios and milk in the morning. I miss the around-the-table songfests of my theater girl with all her theater friends. I miss damp towels on the floor and tripping over piles of shoes in the hallway. I miss them all piling on my bed at night, with wet-from-the-shower hair dripping on my sheets, to watch pay-per-view with me. I miss. I miss.

In the film version of The Sound of Music, an eternally cheerful Julie Andrews says at one point, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." I am ready for my window, please.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer's Farewell

The clock in my car says 6:50 p.m. I am waiting in the parking lot of the Manorhaven Pool with the windows and the sun-roof open, waiting for my daughter (a rookie lifeguard) to be done with work and come out the front entrance.

Tomorrow is Labor Day -- no more pool, no more lazy mornings. And even with the continuous heat of the afternoons, dark comes earlier now, stealthily debunking my delusion that summer -- my hard-won summer -- would never end.

I sit here in the car, watching the setting seven o'clock sun silhouette the seagulls standing sentry on the pool office roof, feeling awash in the melancholy memory of so many summers gone by, each time, their gentle hands waving breezy farewells.

Families load folded strollers and damp towels into minivans and drive away. An announcement over the P.A. -- "Manorhaven Pool is now closed."

She comes out in her red lifeguard shorts and sweatshirt, whistle still lanyarded around her sunburned neck. I wave, and, seeing me, she flips her hair, lifts her sunglasses to the top of her head, sighs a big sad sigh, and gets in next to me.