I am so out of practice. I am so far removed from living alone. We’ve been married for 42 years this August so bachelorhood is but a distant and indistinct memory. We’ve only been apart for any length of time once before when I was off getting trained to be a soldier. That was six months of active duty in the Army Reserve way back in the early 70’s. Since then we haven’t been away from each other for more than a few days. So, like I said, I am out of practice.
The reason we are separated right now is that Mary is in California visiting our daughter and son-in-law and their new baby, our first grandchild. She will be there for the next month bonding with the little guy. I get to stay home and take care of things here. I am finding out how much there is to do around here that I normally take for granted. And I am learning that too much silence isn’t necessarily a good thing.
When we first discussed this trip for her and decided that I would remain behind, I couldn’t wait to experience the freedom that being alone would bring. All the things I could do, the places I could go to, the fun I would have seemed like an endless list of self-indulgence. But, you know what?
I can’t think of anything now that I want to do that I couldn’t do before. It isn’t like she ever prohibited me from doing the things I love to do. As a matter of fact she more often encouraged me to do those things. And I’m finding that some of the things I thought I would do don’t really appeal to me when you get right down to it. Without her here to share those things they become less exciting.
I guess I never fully realized all the everyday chores and responsibilities there are around here that she takes care of so I don’t have to. Mary takes care of everything from the crucial to the mundane, from managing the finances to watering the houseplants. I am finding out that clean laundry doesn’t just magically appear in the drawers, that the bathrooms aren’t always so sparkling clean, that those phone calls to the insurance company have to be made by someone. I admit that I take for granted that all those things will be done, just not by me.
Mary is an outloud thinker. That is, she says what she’s thinking about while she’s thinking it. The stream of consciousness that results can be annoying and disconcerting at times, but the real benefit is that I always know what she’s thinking. She’s too far away now for that to work. I need to know what she’s thinking so I know what to think. I need to hear her babbling voice in the background on the edge of my awareness. I fear I will lose the ability to filter out all but the most important stuff. I don’t want to have to pay such close attention to everything that streams from her mouth. Yet I miss the sound of her voice.
I know a month isn’t that long a time to be apart. I probably won’t develop any terribly bad habits in that amount of time. I really don’t think that, once she’s home again, adjusting to her presence again will be a big deal. I just wish the separation wasn’t necessary at all. Damn kids. It’s all their fault for living so far away.