A new era has begun for me. The nest is pretty much officially empty, at least it is empty of offspring who call it home. Their stuff is still here, and there, and there, and there, and oh, lordy, over there too!
It’s a strange feeling I have right now; a mix of joy and sadness, sprinkled with freedom and an odd sensation of not-a-clue. I can do pretty much whatever I want, but I have no idea what I want to do. I am limited by the critters; after all, I’m their sole provider of love, attention, food, and clean litter boxes. If I didn’t have them to think about, I might hop into the car and go…somewhere. Visit…someone? Maybe hang out at the mall?
It’s not like I can’t just call any of my children and chat with them, or invite them over to dinner, although my youngest now lives an hour away, so impromptu dinner invites are pretty much out the window. But he’s promised to come by some weekends, preferably ones where I’m here and not at the shop.
Middle Minion is frequently on call, so even if he’s not at work, his pager can change that status in a heartbeat. Spawn isn’t too far away, but right now, gas is too expensive and she has her weekend things she does, so we don’t get much time together.
I have gained sympathy for my own parents; their only child (yours truly) left home at 17 and never moved back. Oh, we visited, and we still do, but it’s different. My grandmother lived alone most of her life. She and my grandfather split when my mother was barely four-years-old, and she never remarried. When her kids left, her nest was like mine, and there wasn’t anyone there to help fill that void.
She was very involved in her church and she had lots of friends. She didn’t drive, so if she couldn’t get a ride or walk there, she didn’t go. And she was content. She did a lot of reading and sewing. Her favorite thing to do was travel, and she never hesitated to say “yes” to any invitation to go somewhere. She also didn’t have pets, so she was free to go on a whim. Toward the end of her life, when she started getting confused, those whims would take her to some pretty interesting places, and frequently they were very late at night. My mother would get a call from the church secretary telling her my grandma was at the church and very confused. What should they do? Those calls annoyed the hell out of my mom, because she lived 400 miles away and couldn’t just jump in the car and take Grandma back home.
Grandma was very resourceful and resilient, and I honestly don’t know if she was ever really lonely. She grew up the oldest of six, so maybe she was relieved to have time to herself. She would visit her siblings whenever possible, going by Greyhound bus, train, or even airplane. She never left strangers behind, because she made friends wherever she went. That woman could talk a rock to death, but she could listen really well, too. She loved to collect stories, which she shared with everyone when asked how her trip was.
It’s going to be ok. I’m going to get things figured out, especially those things that meow or chirp and need to be tended to even when I’m at the shop. Holidays are complicated, but we’re going to do them whenever we want, essentially tossing the calendar out the window. Schedules are all over the place, so when the planets align and we’re all available, we’ll have a holiday. If we end up gathering for ThanksYule in June, then that’s when it will be.
And I’ll always be thankful that I have a family and a good life (not an easy one, but a good one) and the support of friends and loved ones to lean on when shit gets weird or the nest starts to echo.