After our usual New Year’s Eve caviar dinner (It’s our decadent little tradition. Swanky, but domestic Great Lakes sturgeon for the boys, paddlefish for me and the husband) and our annual singing of Auld Lang Syne into several friends’ telephone answering machines (ukulele accompaniment, some fine guitar picking by our neighbor Doug, two-part harmony) while drinking copious amounts of Drusian Prosecco; after the blowing of horns, the toasting to health and happiness; after doing the first dishes and sleeping the first sleep of 2008, I woke up to make a pile of breakfast and a pot of coffee to ready my three boys for their road trip north. I exercised an enormous amount of restraint, knowing that within the next hour I would be alone in the house. Alone. In the house. Just me.
Yes, I know, we go on business trips, we have time away from our kids, we have time away from our husbands. We go out of town for work for three days, and sometimes that third day is awful, because by that time you really just want to be back in your own bed, where smelly boys jump on you in the morning. Business trips are always fun for a few nights, but the thrill does not last. No, what is truly a little slice of heaven is having them go away, getting the entire house to myself, me, alone, no kids, no husband, no one. Of course, I’m mad about the little darlings, and my husband is more to me than yadda yadda yadda, but come on. Three days? Maybe four? If there’s a storm or something? Alone? In the house? Am I bad to be hoping for rain?
Okay, I really love my house. It’s not a huge house, and it’s even falling apart in places, but it’s a colorful house full of things I love to look at. And when it has been emptied of all occupants, except for me, I am like a house-junkie getting a house-fix. I know, it’s kind of pathetic. I don’t spend three days in front of girl-porn on the TV, I don’t go out drinking every night with my friends, I don’t even eat quarts of ice-cream in front of romantic comedies. But what I do is absolute porn, to me. I move large pieces of furniture. I rearrange large pieces of furniture. I move large pieces of furniture around on bath towels and rugs, sliding them from room to room. Last time everyone went away I built a really cool low shelving unit for our bedroom. This time, I took it out of the bedroom, put legs on it, and moved it into the dining room. The armoire thing that used to be in the dining room is now in the bedroom. I emptied closets and threw stuff out. I emptied shelves, and cleaned and rearranged them. I swept. I threw out bags of recyclables. I threw out baseball cleats last worn when my oldest son was ten. I hung curtains. I ate over the sink in my underpants, and I made Brussels sprouts and brown rice, which no one else really wants to eat when they’re here. I took pictures off the wall and switched them for other ones. I played my music really loud in my studio, with the radio in the kitchen blaring Air America and the radio in the bedroom blaring NPR, a cacophony which no one else really wants to listen to, when they’re here. I stayed up too late and slept in too long, and moved more furniture, and took A NAP, and went over to my neighbor’s house to watch a movie that was really good but incredibly scary, so I made her come back to my house for a little while, since I was going to be home ALL ALONE.
And there really was a storm (oops! Wishes do come true!) and my guys had to stay an extra night. I got a lot more done. I could have used a few extra nights, but what I had was good. Very good. And it feels all New Yearsy and fresh around here, and I am ready to begin my work. And start my new book. And once again I look forward to the smelly boys jumping on our bed in the mornings. Our bed in our rearranged, be-curtained, reorganized room, in our reorganized, swept-clean house. Maybe I can get them to go away for the Chinese New Year, I still have a few things to do.
Happy New Year!