Saturday, September 15, 2012

Home Alone

Ten days ago my husband (Dan) left. He packed up his 1984 VW Rabbit Pick Up truck with camping gear, strapped down his matching red kayak and headed north. Paddling with killer whales (orcas) was his intention; there was no specific timeline for his return. 

After closing Carlsbad Paddle Sports, and retiring a year ago, Dan has been somewhat of a homebody, navigating between his backyard garden and our local beaches. This summer he flew to Colorado to pick up a vintage VW he purchased, and during the solo drive back to San Diego was when I'm guessing the wanderlust struck. 

With a strong impulse to explore beyond the safe and familiar, Dan drove his vintage Bug to Vancouver, camping out and kayaking along the way. Through phone call updates, I imagine Dan's aquatic expedition; it is so satisfying to hear the exuberance as he details his paddling experiences. While in Chuckanut Bay (Washington's inland marine waters) he started out on a tranquil paddle but found himself caught in sudden, strong southwesterly winds and bumpy whitecap seas -- he was blown several miles down stream and had to hitch a ride back to his vehicle. Excitement!

This morning Dan reported that he was camping out in a picturesque fishing village of Lund, British Columbia, north of Vancouver. An area he described as a beautiful wilderness retreat: forested islands with white shell-crushed beaches and abundant sea life: sea lions, seals, sea stars of different colors...Dan particularly loves the cute and curious otters. Lund, is the doorstep to Desolation Sound, Dan's next stop and the last spot on the world's  longest roadway, Highway 101. The Sound is a popular destination for kayakers because of its spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife.  Perhaps Dan's next call will report a cetacean sighting. Oh, I am envious!

While my husband is roaming around the Pacific Northwest, my teaching gig requires that I stay home. Next year,  I will not be controlled by school bells in September, and will be free to travel to my heart's content. 

But for now, I am appreciating another kind of freedom: the privilege of having total privacy and personal space. Being home alone is a special treat as I am usually the one off traveling, spending about 3 mo. a year living out of a suitcase. But for the first time in awhile, I am the one at home; the solitude allows me to reflect on the experience.

Aloneness gets me back in touch with the independent version of my married self; the woman who is completely in charge of her life, schedule and doesn’t have to be entangled in anyone else’s needs. It is liberating to do whatever I choose without the fear of judgment. Of course, Dan might not directly say something about my personal habits but nonverbal cues reveal his distaste. Being home alone I am able to.. do my 3 am Facebook posts, eat ½ of a watermelon for dinner or spend endless hours on the computer in my PJ’s…without a worry. While watching the evening news (I prefer BBC and he our local channel), I will multi-task.  It is unnerving to my husband that I  read the paper, check  email and do my nails while watching TV. 

And on the subject of TV, being home alone gives me total control of Dan's most coveted household item, the remote. During this time alone there is no TV power play (we are a one television household.) Unlike Dan, who likes to graze channel to channel, I sit down on the coach, decide on a program and watch it (while multi-tasking of course). 

I ponder this question: Is it a requirement of marriage that you have to share all your stuff? While I totally embrace sharing my thoughts and feelings with my husband, and don't care if he uses my car or most other possessions, to parcel my computer (which tops my most important household item list) is a different story. My desktop represents my world, my digital kingdom, packed with contacts, files and thousands of photos. For Dan's birthday I bought him an iPad, which I secretly hoped would serve as his personal computer. The widescreen and spacious keyboard of my computer make it much more preferable to his touch pad. He likes to check his email and watch (in my opinion) some rather bizarre YouTubes on my big screen.  For the past ten days, I've appreciated having my computer untouched and seeing no dicey websites cached in my web browser.

Every parting is a form of death,
as every reunion is a type of heaven. ~Tryon Edwards
During the time Dan is away, I will delight in my eccentric habits, governing the keyboard and remote and spend way too much time in my pajamas. Short-term solitude is a welcomed break; time alone to write and work, think and rest without being disturbed. 

This temporary separation gives me important insight and time to question: What do I miss most about Dan? Why do I  miss him? What can I learn from missing him? 

Soon, I will start to feel an emptiness around the house and miss the life we share.  Missing Dan will be a powerful reminder of the important role he plays in my life.  It's one of the intangible measurements that shows me what's in my heart.


  1. Here, here. I know the feeling well.

    1. Yes, I'm sure you have spent your fair share of time "home alone."