The Big Quiet

We’re just three weeks from the start of school. Our youngest will be starting his junior year of high school, driving himself every morning in the same mini-van that used to take him to grade school. Our middle child is 18 and she’ll be starting her freshman year of college at Ferris State University. Go Bulldogs. And our oldest will be starting her senior year of college at Depauw University, getting closer to graduate school and a Masters in Library Sciences. Those wheels of life keep turning, whether I’m ready for it or not.

The hustle bustle of this summer was at fully caffeinated levels. Both of our daughters working full-time at their jobs, while our son was busy the whole month of June with band, summer school, and Driver’s Ed. Of course as soon as he got his license he was out hanging with friends. There was a lot of time when no one was around with the exception of me and the dog. Even my wife has been kept pretty busy with work. My hours are pretty much etched in stone, 6am to 2pm. After that, it’s just back home for walks, getting dinner together, and spinning records on the Hi Fi. Writing and working on music as well, when I can build up enough ambition to be creative.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my head reflecting on how quickly it’s gone; both this summer and pretty much the last 21 years in general. When the kids were little I always looked forward to them going back to school. I was happy to return to stable schedules and a sense of normalcy, as opposed to a bunch of crazy little kids running around like banshees all day. That first day of school always brought a touch of melancholy, but it passed pretty quickly. But now? Man, this is different. They’re not “kids” anymore. Two are adults while one is looking down the barrel of 17-years old. I loved being with the kids when they were little, but you needed little breaks every once in a while. Now, I can have adult conversations with them. We can talk films, music, books, politics, and current events. I get as much out of our conversations as they do(maybe even more.)

When we hit the start of school and our daughters are moved out, each three hours away(in opposite directions no less), those little chats are gone. Maybe on weekends when they’re home visiting, but that’s if they have time in-between catching up with friends they haven’t seen. My son will be in deep with Marching Band and hanging out with friends. The house is going to be pretty damn quiet. Too quiet.

I’ve always been one that appreciates some down time in the house. Everyone out for a few hours doing their thing, while I catch up on some listening or watching or playing. Have a beer or an afternoon coffee and enjoy the silence(with the occasional bark from the pooch.) But what I’ve learned after my wife and daughters were gone a week on vacation a couple weeks ago is that a few hours of quiet is one thing, a whole week of it is something else. I’m not built for that kind of quiet. I’m not a social person, but I’m not a hermit either. After a certain amount of time alone I start to wonder, “What do I do now?” I can only watch so many crappy horror movies and eat so much frozen pizza and listen to so many albums before the loneliness sets in. Sure, my son was here but there were two nights where he spent the night at a buddy’s house. I was up till 1, 2am those nights watching garbage on TV and wondering “Should I make a box of mac and cheese?” at 12:30 am. No, you shouldn’t. You should go to bed.

I know that this too shall pass. It’s another emotional life hump we must get over in order to access the next level of this human existence. There were those bittersweet pangs of happy/sad when they started school. This is sort of the same thing, right? Right? I guess I’m just going to have to buckle in for the emotional rollercoaster we’re about to take off into. I mean, there’s lots of creative, healthy things I can fill that time with. I can deep dive into painting. Lots of paints and canvases downstairs just waiting for me to make a mess on like a 5-year old. I also want to write music again. Actually demoed a song, a real song with vocals, last Sunday for the first time in a while. That felt good. And of course being a homeowner there’s always a ton of crap to fix, paint, move, renovate, and tinker with. I just need to get my head on straight and focus on the creative things I should be focusing on. Not all the sad things that like to overwhelm me.

Regardless, I’m going to enjoy the madness and hustle bustle for as long as I can. At least until the quiet comes.

5 thoughts on “The Big Quiet

  1. Man, you write what I think. We just celebrated out daughter’s 10th birthday on Friday. And our boy was 12 in April. Where did the time go? I mean, I know where it went, we lived it, but it seems a blur.

    And I’m staring down the barrel of a conundrum. I’ve been off work over 500 days now, and if the kids go back to school in September, I’ll be headed back to my job and I have hesitations. It’s a whole thing. All the stress is gone, the physical pain is gone, the headaches are gone… if I go back, they’re likely to return. The kids do need to go to school, though, they’ve been great with each other at home all this time, but they NEED to be in their own cohorts too. 3 weeks, you say. That might not be enough time for me to be ready!

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