Thursday, July 21, 2016

Empty Sweaters

It's never easy when the family is gone. This time seems harder than others. For a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is Elise and the kids are exploring Yellowstone National Park without me.

They probably picked as good a time as any to go. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 100s this weekend in DC. They do seem to miss the hottest parts of the summer when they go, so that is good. This week has also been particularly crazy at work. And I'm on closing shift. And my metro line is single-tracking, which adds an extra half hour to my commute each way. I didn't get home until 11:30 last night. Just enough time to have a beer, kick my feet up, then go to bed. So--for that reason, too-maybe it is better that they're not here. That's what I keep telling myself anyway.

This morning, Elise texted me, asking me what I'd done. I replied: made the kids' beds, did a short yoga session, walked to the Giant to mail a letter. She's not missing much. Meanwhile, they are seeing buffalo and hot springs, finding drawings by Peter in the back seat of the rental car, scribbled on hotel stationary, of Old Faithful erupting.

Last weekend, I went to visit my mom which was restful and restorative. We didn't do much. Talked, mostly. Read a lot. I had cold nitro coffee on tap for the first time. I'm hooked. I made the mistake of having it black, but the mouthfeel was like beer which was uniquely wonderful. Next time, I would ask them to put a little simple syrup and milk in the bottom of the cup before pouring the beer, so as to keep the head, but make the coffee a little sweater and not as bitter. We went to Leftovers for dinner one night to listen to the Grateful Dead cover band and eat panko-friend oysters and Dune Dog for lunch. I think it is what both of us needed.

It was just enough to hit Monday refreshed. The refreshing feeling has worn off. I walk to the metro stop, wading through waves of heat radiating off the pavement in a suit and tie. When I get up in the morning, the silence is deafening. I would 145 x over rather listen to the kids fighting in the living room. The emptiness is vast, and I turn on music as soon as I get up to try and fill it. When I was folding clothes the other morning, I folded Elise's burnt orange sweatshirt. It had been hanging on the drying rack downstairs and had a crispness to it that clothes get when they air dry as opposed to drying in the machine. I hugged it to my chest. As I did it, I knew it was weird, but I did it anyway. I couldn't help myself. I get up first in the morning and start the coffee and breakfast for the kids. Elise usually follows no more than a few minutes later, and she hugs me in the kitchen when she gets up. Every morning. It wasn't the same, but it did have the feel of her, the smell, even when empty.

Before I went to Florida, I had the fleeting thought of what it would be like to have an older brother. I don't exactly know where the thought came from...I think from the lyrics of a song I had been listening to at the time. I had never--in 44 years--ever even remotely wondered this, which is maybe (or maybe not) surprising in and of itself, that the notion had never crossed my mind. I wondered what he would be like, what our relationship would be like, and in that context, I thought about my relationship with my two younger brothers. One is getting married this summer. The other is having a baby. I resolved before I went to Florida to try to be more like a big brother I myself would want to have. I'm not sure if I succeeded. It's only just a start, really.

Only a few more days to go until my head and my heart are full again and can vanquish these random thoughts that can creep up upon me in the quiet. Not always unwelcome, but unbidden. 

No comments: