I experienced an incredibly strange phenomenon last week. I was home alone. For the entire week. I haven’t had the experience of being home alone for an entire week since…um…whoa! Never! I just realized I’ve never been home alone for an entire week in my life! That can’t be right. Lemme think…
Grew up in a family of six.
In college I had roommates.
After getting my first job, I shared a house with two other twenty-somethings.
Moved briefly back home with the family before getting married.
By the time my hubby started traveling for work, our daughter had been born.
So wow, I’ve never been home alone for an entire week. Interesting…
Well anyway, I ended up home alone because my hubby left on a business trip, and the kids were both at high-school church camp together. I had been alternately dreading and anticipating the week. I was certain it was going to feel really weird having no one to care for and no one to talk to except myself (and the dog). But the idea of freedom from any commitments, and the time to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, just sounded so…wonderful.
At first, my days were fairly typical. I went through my usual morning routine, and worked on clients’ writing projects throughout the afternoon, just like always. The only differences being that I was able to make a gratifying dent in the dreaded “pile.” (You know the “pile,” right? That massive pile of papers that always stacks up because you keep shoving more papers on top of it waiting for time to get to them.) And I was able to dedicate more time to my creative writing projects. I even surpassed my goal of 3,000 words for the week, adding 4,600 words to my work-in-progress novel.
But aside from those few differences, my days were pretty normal. After a couple of days of this it struck me, “Hey you’re doing it wrong.” I needed to start thinking outside the box. To recognize that I didn’t need to conform to any set routines. To grasp the unfamiliar concept of: I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.
Suddenly, I began to enjoy the ultimate flexibility I had in my schedule. If I felt like goofing off in the middle of the day, and doing all my writing at night, I could. If I wanted to talk on the phone for hours, eat junk all day, work through dinner, and watch a movie until 2:00 a.m., I could. And so I did! It was very freeing that way. That was the good part.
But I’ll confess, it WAS a little lonely. The times that felt the strangest were the evenings and dinner time. I’d notice how quiet the house was then. I found myself talking to the dog a lot. And making him answer me in the ridiculous baby voice my daughter and I use. Then I’d respond again, then he would, until I finally realized I was having an entire conversation with myself. (Not a good sign!)
I started to relate to the Tom Hank’s character in Castaway, when he discovers “Wilson,” the volleyball. Although, I felt marginally better knowing my “Wilson” was an actual living, breathing creature.
When my week alone came to an end, I reflected that although I had been lonely, I hadn’t felt quite as lonely as I’d thought I would. I think it’s because I knew my days were numbered-- that my time alone would only last this one single week. If there hadn’t been an end in sight, I probably would have felt very differently.
On Friday, it was time to pick up the kids from camp. I was so glad to see them! So was “Wilson” who insisted on coming with me for the ride. So now I’m readjusting back to normal mode once again. Making dinner. Keeping regular work hours. As I write, I can hear sounds of movement from upstairs and the T.V. is on in the family room. Someone comes in to talk with me, or to ask me a question. The sounds of life in the house. The sounds of my family. My week home alone was cool. But I really do like having these folks around me. Good stuff.