Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Home Alone

I'm at home sick today, and therefore faced with the surreality of being in the house when No One Else Is. So many possibilities! If you're not feeling crappy, that is. One voyeuristic opportunity I realized shortly after the other three human inhabitants blew out the door this morning and silence settled in was that I would have a sneak peek at the secret life of our pets.

Which so far has consisted of them following me around and lying down where I do.

Being away from school, that living, breathing city of 1000+ people, on a day when it's functioning without me always feels strange. I will acknowledge that, as someone who works in an educational setting, I am plenty accustomed to days off. It's days off without my children and anyone else's that seem eerie. When I finally pried myself from my bed and the gripping novel I was reading to take a shower and hit the pharmacy and post office, I marveled at the child-free world I momentarily inhabited. I finally passed a teenager in the cosmetics aisle, and as we made eye contact, I thought, You should be in school, girl.

So should you, Vice Principal, I reminded myself. We probably both called in sick.

We grow accustomed to seeing the usual characters in our daily dramas, as routine and cyclical as soap operas. In the meantime, there are other worlds whose residents we rarely meet. I was several months into my first year of college before I realized it had been a long time since I'd seen a dog or a baby: my world was professors and twenty-somethings. Now it's mainly teenagers and other parents of young children. I rarely escape from campus during the school day to run errands. And I avoid them on weekends with my daughters, save the requisite Costco or Target run.

So I was in the post office today for the first time in I can't remember how long, standing in line with no clerk in sight thinking, I am in the post office, in the middle of the day! Who are these other people? What are their jobs? Are they on lunch break? And then a man, frustrated over the wait, grabbed the box he'd chosen from the shelf and packed but hadn't paid for, and left. I was glad that he opted not to go postal, and also that I was not Vice Principal of the Post Office.

Back home I kept the TV and music off and listened to the weekday sounds of my neighborhood in concert with my snorting, sneezing, sniffling, and coughing. Cars passed, dogs barked, birds chirped. I was home to lend a neighbor the weed whacker and when the Arrowhead deliveryman arrived.

Of course, what I truly desired--and what everyone deserves--was a (healthy) day off of work (or child rearing) alone in my house or out exploring those other foreign mid-week worlds.

Like, I wonder what dramas unfold in spas on Wednesdays?

Maybe someday soon I'll find out.

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