I drove along the freeway on my way back from dropping my husband at the airport and wondered why the car behind me was bearing down, too close for comfort.
I could not see clearly enough to change lanes to let him pass. Besides I was inching over the 80 kilometres limit with all the signs making it clear we should not go above that and still he bore down on me as if I was travelling too slow.
We passed a number of cars in the left lane as we roared down the highway and eventually just as I was about to move into the left lane, he changed lanes before I had a chance and as he sped by he honked his horn.
The speed limit meant nothing to him it seems.
The sun was coming up as I said good-bye to my husband who’s off for a week in Western Australia to visit his brother. I will be home alone.
It’s happened once before that my husband was away and coincidentally all our children away simultaneously. My youngest, who still lives at home, is housesitting for friends and so I am truly home alone.
I hear about other people who live lives like this, lives of solitude and it suits them.
It does not suit me. I find I wander through the house and sense the presence of the others who are normally here. It is almost as if they’re all sleeping and at any moment will wake up.
The sense of being in an otherwise empty house, empty of other people, is like having to grieve a death.
No one has died but being home alone for me has that surreal quality, as if I’m still in conversation with my mother. I see her in my mind’s eye and then need to remind myself, she’s gone. I’ll never see her again.
It’s an eerie feeling, as if I’m in a dream and all the people in the dream slip in and out of my awareness, outside of my control.
Things just happen in random and unexpected ways.
The flip side to this is one of pleasure. A sense of freedom I rarely experience, knowing that for the weekend at least, before my work begins again on Monday, I’m a free woman.
Not that my husband imposes restrictions on me. Not any more. We have come to a good arrangement in recent years where we can come and go as we see fit, as long as we let one another know and there’s none of the angst at the idea of doing something independently I experienced when we first met.
Even so, I find his presence and the presence of others who walk in and out of the house at will, leave me filled with a sense of expectation.
As If I am on call.
Now alone in my house on Saturday morning and free of all responsibilities and able to decide for myself where I will go, whom I will meet, what I will eat, without the need to consult another, has an exhilarating feel, even as it leaves me feeling its opposite, the sense of oppression that comes from living in an empty house.
This oppression is not unlike the sensation of having someone tailgate you. Someone who, without words, is telling you to move over.