It was billed as a vacation for me by some of my friends.
At the end of June, my wife took our kids to California to visit her parents. They were gone for ten days. I would like to have gone with them, but it was quarter end at work and quarter end is not an opportune time to be away from the office, at least in the role I perform. So, we said our goodbyes at the airport and I headed home.
Like I said, some friends billed this time as a vacation for me. No matter how much we love our families, there are times most of like to get away for a few days and relax. I had lunch with friends one day. I read a bit, trying to catch up on my TBR pile. I edited some chapters of a manuscript I’ve been working on. I also made sure that the laundry basket full of clothes that my wife washed and folded for me before she left eventually made it upstairs and got put away, as opposed to grabbing stuff from the basket once a day. The vacuum, still in the master bedroom, got put away in the hall closet.
Yet the house was quiet, and I hated it.
My 11-year old, still fearful of the dark, likes to keep at least two lights on in the loft between his room and the bathroom. Sometimes, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I’ll look out the door of the master bedroom, see how bright it is in the loft, and flip off one of the lights to conserve electricity. When I wake up in the morning, I find both lights on again. During my vacation, I would look out my bedroom door into darkness, and the emptiness gnawed at me.
One of the oddest reminders of being along came the evening before garbage day. As I took the garbage can to the curb, I realized I was carting only one partially-filled bag to the curb. A normal week has the can at least half-full, following well-cooked home meals peppered with conversations about what the kids dissected that day in class. There’s no salve for missing family dinners.
Except for the return of the family you love.