Thursday, August 18, 2005

Listen to the clock ticking!

The house is so quiet today that the clock on the wall is bugging me again. My ADD brain can't filter out the incessant ticking, even though I have tried padding the back of the clock with soft cotton. It's so loud, it makes me synchronize the ticks with the beating of my heart. I swear if I listen long enough, I'd hear my own biological clock marking off the seconds of my life!

In a moment or two, I'll get up and turn some soft worship music on. Not just yet; for a while I'll sit here, listening to the sounds of an empty house. It's such an odd stillness. Just yesterday, the fans were running, the phone was ringing, the doorbell was chiming, the dog was barking...and the whole house echoed with the obnoxiously rude noises of two adolescent boys playing an aggravatingly loud video game.

What a difference one day can make! With the flip of a calendar page, school has begun. Summer break has ended, "sleeping in" is over, free time has been curtailed. "Back-to-school" is an annual ritual, but it's different for me this time. My baby girl left the house this morning, ending a year of homeschool, and walked in to a public high school. My now a freshman! My baby boy got up and showered, put gel in his hair, donned his private school uniform, and entered the twilight-zone of seventh grade. (Oh, horrors! How soon will he start shaving?) Elementary education is over for this family, it's time to clean out the picture books and grade-school supplies. My youngest is now a junior-high student!

I feel as though I'm having a pre-season peek at the "Empty Nest Syndrome." Oh, yes, by the way, where is that dear husband I've been married to for eighteen years? Well, it seems that he is off chasing polar bears on some island way up in the Arctic ocean right now. [Honestly, I'm not kidding, he really is in Kaktovik, on Barter Island. Look it up!] I was a bit miffed when it dawned on me that I'd be handling the morning rush myself, for the first two days of school, driving both kids to school in opposite directions. Okay, I'm still a bit miffed, but secretly quite proud of how smoothly the morning routine actually went.

I must confess I relish the solitude of an empty house almost as much as a hidden candy bar. This day is all mine, to fritter away, nibbling at the minutes (while listening to the clock tick!) -- or to chomp at with gusto, gobbling up big chunks of time (cleaning and organizing, which is what I'm supposed to be doing right now). Solitude is so delicious! It's such a luxury to savor the silence, to soak in the sunlight, to sip a cup of Seattle's best. Like a favorite poster saying, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits."

But, dog-gone, that clock keeps on ticking! Like an annoying pest, poking at my arm, it won't go away or slow down. The clock is my enemy; every night it steals precious minutes of sunlight from the next day, until the winter solstice, when it grudgingly starts adding them back.

Well, I guess it's time. Guess I'd better turn on some peppy music, and get my body moving!

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