First week alone with just the kiddos and I. All alone in a great big house. All alone in a great, great, big field. All alone in an expanse of winding country roads I become lost on everyday, only to find my way home by turning down one of the three county routes numbered “9”. Thank God for GPS and the little blue dot on my phone that brings me home after meandering past a “9” to the yellow house with the wrap-around porch.
The house is not ridiculously huge, just open, tall, and echoing. When I’m by myself, I feel the quiet seeping into my bones and it causes an anxiety. I turn on music and find it hard to be still and let the quiet in. I busy with chores and look for reasons to be outside where somehow the openness feels safer. I pick up the children and the house suddenly shrinks. Their voices fill every corner and bounce off the ceilings and chandeliers, so loud I feel I’m going batty and shoe them out. But, then I’m alone again.
We spend afternoons floating in the pond, tidying up the apple orchard, chasing turkeys, and of course, tormenting woodchucks. We make dinner, clean, bathe, read stories, and snuggle. I’m barely conscious when they have fallen asleep but the aloneness of the house keeps me restless. The first few nights I woke every hour uncomfortable and anxious. I debate turning on the house alarm and come back to the fact that I’m more afraid of the alarm going off for no reason once I set it, causing a seriously traumatic wake up for myself and children. I’ve never been scared of being alone. Never scared of falling asleep in a house by myself, but I’ve never been so isolated with two others I’m protecting.
I surprise myself with the things I have become afraid of here; collisions on winding roads, men, talking to other moms at summer camp, breaking down on the Taconic Parkway, and being alone. I am more surprised with what I have become not afraid of. I don’t even flinch when a deer crashes in front of me while I’m on a run, or yesterday when a garter snake fell off a shelf in the shed onto my foot. I have been unscathed by dark, dank spaces where I don’t even hesitate to explore. Where’s the right kind of courage when you need? I summon the goddess of Aloness and make small adjustments. I move the bed in my enormous room to fit into a little nook where half the bed is sheltered a bit. I turn on the alarm at night and watch a little TV to fill the air with voices while I try to do other things. I open the windows and listen to crickets, cicadas, and wooing and hooing of other mystery creatures. I fall asleep and wake-up when the outside nightclub quiets at 4am and Q climbs in bed with me. I fall back asleep with his feet pressed against my legs and we wake with the sun streaming through the east window. We made it. We’ll make it. I forget that I’m not really alone.