Something unusual happened to me over the long Labor Day weekend. I was home alone; well, the dog and I were home alone.
Our daughter was off to her freshman year of college. My husband was out of town visiting relatives. The house was quiet except when the dog barked at a walker or kid riding by on a bike.
I sipped my morning coffee on the front porch. I walked the dog. I reconnected with friends on the phone. I cleaned, sorted, recycled and organized.
Boy, did I clean, sort, recycle and organize.
I had decided beforehand that these few days were going to be devoted to home stuff. Rarely, I realized, am I not only home alone but home alone with a fairly good chunk of time to do things. Vacation days and a holiday weekend gave me what I considered a luxury.
Yet so odd – and, quite frankly, wonderful – was this feeling that I didn’t know what to do first. Water the plants? Sweep the porch? Clean out the refrigerator? Strip the beds? Corral all the daughter’s belongings that didn’t travel to her dorm room yet were scattered throughout the house. Flip-flops by the back door. Makeup containers on the bathroom counter. Hangers and empty shopping bags on the bedroom floor.
I walked through my house room by room, the dog tagging along until he either grew dizzy or exhausted and stretched out to take a nap.
“So that’s what you do when we’re not home,” I said.
I made a mental note that the front hall closet needed to be cleaned out. The daughter’s lacrosse stick was in there as were a few binders, notebooks and books. She wouldn’t be needing these this semester. Did I mention she’s off to her freshman year of college?
Continuing my walk through the house, I noticed that a couple bedroom doors could use a fresh coat of paint. There were framed pictures to hang and sheet music to stack and safely store. And the window in the living room where the dog parks himself to bark at humans and dogs of all sizes needed attention.
Perhaps this was therapeutic, I thought to myself while vigorously vacuuming the carpeting on the stairs. The daughter is gone and so is the revolving door of friends. The house is empty and quiet. No smoothie blenders being run at all hours. No late-night movies. No wet swimsuits flung over the tub.
Yet stewing is not my style. I knew that everyone was in the right place last weekend. The daughter was at college meeting new friends. The husband was visiting relatives. And I was home alone for a few days – where I wanted to be.
But there may be more to this. A friend of mine, a retired teacher, said that even though she no longer has to prepare her classroom and lesson plans for another school year, September still brings with it that feeling of a fresh start and getting things in order.
I totally agreed with her. While our bedroom doors still need painting and the pictures have to be hung, the windows are clean, the furniture polished, the closet decluttered, the laundry put away, the high school notebooks packed in a box. Even the dog is freshly groomed, and my car is clean inside and out.
Now that feels good.