I am lost. It’s as if I am a sleepwalker woken up in another room. Even the face of my waker is a stranger to me. Nothing is where I left it; my books closed and unread, abandoned in piles at my bedside. This Autumn, a season of such unexpected warmth and sunshine, has left me in darkness. I am constantly cold. Some days I leave my coat on until my daughter comes home from school. I tear it off and shove it into the closet when I hear her footstep at the front door. I bake and I cook but I don’t eat. While my family swirls in and out of this little house I am left standing at a center that I cannot hold. But, I am trying, so very hard. For the first time I am so separate from my children that sometimes I don’t even say goodnight to my daughter, embarrassed that at 8:30 I can’t keep my head up anymore. She is in her room, chatting, working, singing Christmas carols in a high, sweet soprano, and I am in mine, a single lamp puddling light on a book that won’t be read. I am homesick and I can’t go home.
It is a fact that I tend toward melancholy. This is not to be confused with having a sentimental streak. THAT I do not. At our recent yard sale—which nearly killed me and several of the shoppers—I all but threw merchandize (including vintage linen and quilts, 60-year old, pristine kid gloves, silver plate whiskey sour muddlers and a set of library steps) at the milling crowd. “Take it,” I screamed, “Just get it out of here!” When a particularly creepy man asked us if there was more to see inside the house I almost told him “Yes, just go in there and strip the joint!”
I find myself strangely shaken by the absence of our two boys. It started on the drive to the airport after we dropped Will off at Kenyon in Gambier, Ohio (where?). It had been bucketing down the whole day before as we unloaded his stuff and settled him into his room. The rain threw itself against his dorm room windows as I tucked in sheets and folded duvets. The wind rattled the frames while David, Will and I stared at his roommate (perfectly nice boy) while he hung a massive American flag over his bed. The sky stayed resolutely heavy and gray all through our jolly dinner on a porch already wet with the day’s weather.
Now, before you begin to wonder, “does this woman not have an un-posted thought? let me just say that we all have a junk drawer. You know the one, bits, bobs, knobs and knockers. Mine has about five old mobile phone batteries and a few lira, francs and pesetas. And, oh no, here’s an envelope with one of Emma’s baby teeth! Does that mean that I forgot to be the tooth fairy, or that I remembered and chucked the tooth in a drawer without thought? I don’t know which scenario is worse. It’s not like I can ask her.