Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things in the night

My daughter crawled into bed with me last night in the wee hours. Coincidentally, I was awake because the neighbour was up on a ladder a few feet away from my bedroom window taping plastic over the empty hole where the bathroom window used to be. He took the window out to replace it during the day and didn't finish. The previous tape job he'd concocted had given out in the rain, and he was redoing it, waking me up with that annoying tape noise over and over, without any rhythm and with no idea of when he'd be done. Eventually I think he ran out of tape and stopped just before I started throwing things at his head.
So, just as he was done, Naomi appeared in my doorway and stumbled to the other side of the bed and crawled in. I was trying to convince her to go back to sleep in her bed, I end up with a foot in my ear more mornings than not, when her little sleepy sad voice whispered in the dark, "But I woke up and it felt lonely". Melt. This is how she suckers me in.
She made herself comfy and snuggled in and fell right back to sleep. Lucky. I was awake, brain whirring, analysing the sleeplessness and out of whack feelings.
This summer has been about emptiness for me. People in my life have been empty, which I've had to accept and move past. I've also found myself feeling an emptiness for some people who deserve love. Promises have been empty, my job has felt empty of anything meaningful (which is more a reflection on me than the actual job), my bank account seems emptier. Not having my cat around makes the house seem so much more empty when the kids aren't here, it's not as if she created havoc running around the house, but I miss her wandering in and out of rooms, sitting with me, waking me up in the morning with a purring furry face against mine as she tried to smell the inside of my nose. Suddenly the things I took for granted are gone and there's a selfish fear that I didn't appreciate them enough while they were present. But I cannot long for things from the past, they no longer exist.
It sounds like I've had a pretty stark summer, but I haven't. I've had a lot of fun with my children and my friends, we've been to the beach, exploring the city, discovering new restaurants, reading, meeting people, and laughing. My life is not tragic and I have people who love me, but emptiness has motivated me to perhaps make some choices that I should have avoided.
There are two ways to handle the emptiness. You can try to fill it with activities and things until you are distracted, which is effective but only fills it temporarily, requiring a constant parade of activities and things. Or you can step back and look at the emptiness for a while until you realise how wonderful it can be. In the design of just about anything, the best thing you can do sometimes is allow just a little more white space; it cleans and opens up a room, a page, a mind. And the most beautiful thing about emptiness is its endless potential for ways to fill it. This is what I'm going to try to focus on for the next little while and see where it takes me.

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