An Empty Nest, and Possibilities

A few weeks ago, a storm blew through the North Shore—the kind of storm that makes you feel unsafe to be driving, because of all the hundred-year-old trees that have started falling into the road. My mom’s house lost power, as it is wont to do whenever the wind starts whipping. As the sun inched westward, its internal temperature climbed steadily toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a child of divorce, I will say that this was pretty much the first time that I was thankful to have two houses (although the double Christmas thing hadn’t been too awful). My father had recently moved to a new city (Washington, D.C., actually!); since his electricity remained uncompromised and the renters hadn’t quite taken over yet, I decided to move in temporarily. Everything necessary was there: an air mattress, Koko, my laptop paired with one perfect DVD—Ever After, obviously. Also, a bottle of bourbon. We camped out in the living room, right by the only window air conditioning unit that was left.

I have to say, it felt like a totally different house than the one I grew up in. Every piece of furniture was gone, leaving bare wooden floors and blank walls and echoes in their place. It was almost like a preview of what life might be like ten years down the road, when I was in a position to purchase real estate: there was more than one room! There were stairs inside the dwelling! That is certainly a Very Adult Thing that signifies you’ve made it, yes? Koko seemed to think so; she spent every waking moment rolling around in happy disbelief on those stairs, the likes of which she had never experienced before.

Things were quiet there. There were no upstairs neighbors that tramped around loudly overhead. There was a backyard stuffed with flowers, and too many rooms to fill with my paltry possessions. In the big empty living room, I watched the movie I’d played over and over again as a twelve-year-old, and Koko sat on my feet like she’d been at home here all along. I almost started to get used to having it all to myself.

But just as inevitably, ComEd got its act together and restored power at my mother’s house; I moved back into my tiny room there and it was business as usual. For one day, though, I’d had a glimpse of what my future looked like, my long-term future, and it was humbling. I got to imagine how my vision of home would expand over my many years on this planet, and for that, I thanked the gods of the power outage.