I’ll Be Home for Christmas

Thing is, the place is empty. It was, in fact, all closed up for the winter. I had a neighbor go over to turn the electricity and gas on, chase away the mice, and plow the drive. I have a last minute tenant, a man who moves in on December 28th- who wants the winter solitude to write, and be near his kids, at UVM and Vergennes. It will be good to meet him before I make my way back to Providence, thank him for getting me through what I thought would be a very tough winter. Now, all is well in that regard. Maybe I want to go home to thank the house for being there. For saving me. Maybe I want to clean and paint and love on it, look out at the lake view my mother stared at, endlessly, during the uncomfortable months before she died. She’d go out at dusk in her nightgown, steady herself at the porch railing and stare at the mountains and lake. She’d stand there and watch the day disappear….say good-bye to a day that might be her last. She absorbed the surroundings through all senses so that she might take it with her when she died.  I’ll arrive around dusk, and all that she witnessed from the porch railing will be there, even if she isn’t. You wonder if this might be a mistake. Should I spend Christmas with friend’s, or drive to D.C. to surprise my daughter, or fly to San Francisco to confound a brother? Or just stay in the loft with the dog and enjoy my own company? I have many options, so why take to an icy highway and head for an empty cottage, in a place where the silence so complete that it seeps under the bed quilts, into your bones, so quiet that the sound of your heart and breath interrupt concentration.  The silence is aggravating because it’s bitter medicine. The thick-headed dullness of my obtrusive life, a life of mindless busy-ness and shallow aquaintance, clears itself in an arena of loss, and the truth of that loss — that is must be accepted, will set my future course.

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