Ever since the summer of 1982 I have had someone to come home to. I still remember the day my love was sitting on the couch in a house that I lived in Bellingham, Washington. It was an old Craftsman Style house below Western Washington University on Forest Street. The house had been divided up into apartments. My apartment was on the waterside. It was a sunroom with enough room for a bed, a couch and a table. The view was spectacular but just a room, not a home.
I came up from the community kitchen where I was chatting with another resident, talking about nothing but everything and looking out over Bellingham Bay. Well the reality was that we were drinking chamomile tea and smoking a little weed while chatting. I went upstairs to get something, maybe a pipe, I don’t remember exactly. Well anyway, there was my love and I said hey and sat down next to him. We had been, well what would you call it, dating or friends with benefits for a while. So I asked what’s up? He thought that we should find a place without roommates. He suggested that we could pool our resources and live a nice place together. I guess that was his way of saying that it was time that we take the next step and live together. Needless to say, I did not go back downstairs. I guess my friend thought I got side tracked.
Since that defining day in the summer of 1982, I have had the luxury of coming home at the end of the day to: Hi I am home. How was your day? Like most couples, when we came home from a day of work or from being out and about, there was chitchat about the day, about politics, about a movie, about our families, or about just anything. When our son was born, the house became full and we enjoyed all the glories, anxieties and dramas of parenthood. The conversation grew to discussing hopes and dreams for our beloved baby boy.
Over the last two years, coming home has changed drastically. In November of 2014 my love passed away and in August of 2015 my mom passed away. Since that time our baby boy, now a man, has graduated high school and is now off to college, three hundred and fifty miles away. I know that our son will go on to greatness and will find his way in the world. I am so proud of his strength and character.
And now as I drove down the Richardson Highway from Fairbanks to Valdez, I spent much of the seven hour drive reflecting on how I go back in time thirty four years to that quaint Craftsman House in Bellingham. Life was simple then. The only person I was responsible for was myself. I just had to work enough to pay the rent, the phone, and have enough money in my pocket so I could go out every night.
Now I am responsible for making sure I have renters in my properties; responsible for the Museum and the Visitor’s Center here in Valdez; and all the other adult responsibilities that I could go on about. How do I go back to that simple life? Realistically, I know that it is not possible.
And, now what? As I sit here sipping on a glass of wine, looking at Annabelle, the adoring Golden Black Lab who looks at me with those sweet eyes, and the cats around my feet, I wonder if I am going to be that lady that talks to the animals. The problem is that they do not talk back. Oh, I bet Annabelle would if she could.
I suppose being an empty nester would not be so difficult if those who passed in the last couple of years were here. I am not the type of person who likes to be a victim, but I am having trouble figuring out what is next. Sure, I will go out to events and be around people. It is the fact that the house is so quiet. I guess my life continues to be a work in progress. I will figure the puzzle out. I just don’t have the answers.
I use to say that everything happens for a reason. When my love passed away, our beloved son refused to believe in the statement that everything happens for a reason in that there was no good reason for his dad, my love, to die. So as I embark on this new chapter in my life, I will struggle to find the solution but will find strength in what I can and adapt as needed. I will find my way. I just do not know what it is yet.