Everything is silent here. I can hear nothing but the tyres and brakes of the cars and trucks hitting the asphalt outside in the distance, the cat impatiently meowing at the backdoor and the palms swishing in the cool wind. It is the middle of the day. I am sitting down to write. For the first time in months I am writing with space. It feels like a novelty, a guilty pleasure.
There have been many of those this week.
Like the spontaneous dinner with a friend last night. Uninterrupted adult conversation and a sneaky bottle of wine in a restaurant I would otherwise never have ventured to. A small taste of a previous life where I came and went whenever I pleased.
Like waking up naturally, without an alarm and no pressing desire to get out of bed before the sun rises just so I can have some quiet time and exercise before my son usually wakes and our day starts in full throttle.
Like not having to spend half an hour every night packing up strewn toys and sweeping up crumbs, and the small fact that my house has stayed exactly as it were five days ago, not one thing out of place.
Like the crazed de-cluttering I have indulged in; hours spent on a buy/swap/sell website listing old stuff that has been collecting dust for more months and years than I care to think about.
Like the 20k walk I am about to do by the river.
Like the book I have been reading tucked up in bed.
Like being able to walk up to the corner shop at 10PM because I needed something, without worrying about a sleeping child.
Like tonight’s night out with a girlfriend I haven’t spent nearly enough time with.
Like being able to eat an indulgent treat without having to share.
Like finishing my teaching plans for next term in half the amount of time it would usually take.
Like clicking on that folder on my computer named ‘Novel’ that has been screaming at me for months with pangs of neglect and pain.
Like the thought of being able to watch whatever I want, whenever I want on TV, despite the fact that I don’t even watch TV.
And like being able to sit on the toilet, peacefully and privately doing my business.
They are a rarity. Things my heart has yearned for. Desperately.
These guilty pleasures have made me happy, but not nearly as happy as I thought they would.
There is something missing in the house. An emptiness and hollowness has settled in this past week and made itself known.
I am reminded of it everywhere I turn. When I pass his bedroom and see his bed still made and his Harry Potter robe slung over the railing, waiting for him. When I stand on one of his figurines in the shower and curse. When I see his drawing table empty of evidence of his typically daily drawing benders. When I see his birthday presents from his party on Sunday still piled up in a corner, desperately waiting for him to come home and play with them. When I sit down at night with no one to read to me and eat dinner alone. When I go to bed at night without a very special, “I love you too, mummy”. When I have gone about my days without the presence of an energetic soul, combusting with stories and adventure and wonder.
It is the fourth day without my son. He has spent five days at his dad’s for the school holidays. A first. We have never been apart for more than two days. Another first.
It’s a strange feeling. Like a phantom limb.
And I miss him. So much that the clean house and the writing and the de-cluttering and the private pees and the dinners and wine and dance floor all seem insignificant without him here to come home to.
My nest is empty and tomorrow couldn’t come sooner.