The clock is ticking towards 9pm, and I have done nothing all evening. Actually, that’s not entirely true. After returning from work I hung a load of washing on the line, put another load in the machine, cooked a pizza for dinner, ate the pizza, walked to the garage, bought ice cream for a planned late night movie marathon, then sat on the couch watching a forgettable TV show on Amazon called “Awkward” for an hour.
After so many years living in a house filled with mayhem, I don’t deal with the absence of others very well any more. I guess there is a correlation of sorts with my much storied struggles sitting at tables for one in restaurants when travelling with work. Being home alone is somehow different though – I’m not sure I can describe how it’s different.
I’m used to the radio being on in the kitchen, cartoons being on the TV in the lounge, a video game rumbling through the floor from upstairs, along with spirited arguing from the protagonists playing it. I’m used to kids running through the kitchen to the back garden, for another go on the trampoline, and a mountain of tea and coffee cups appearing in the sink every time you turn your back. I’m used to the washing machine and tumble dryer running all evening continuously, and spending half an hour after dinner washing dishes, and cleaning worktops.
None of that is happening.
I do have a few animals to look after while “home alone”, I suppose.
The cats wander in and out as it pleases them, and make a gigantic nuisance of themselves when they are either hungry or cold. This morning I wandered down to the kitchen in my underwear and was greated by both George and Sam – our surviving brothers – meowing at me, and instantly turning their purring up to motorbike levels as I poured food into their bowls.
Goldfish aren’t really interactive, are they – although they know that on a morning they need to congregate in whichever corner is closest to the approaching human (me), because that causes the lid of the fishtank to be raised, and food to be dumped into the water. They have learned this after much experimentation.
Finally we have “Totoro” – the russian hamster belonging to our eldest daughter. I have a written list of instructions to follow this week – fresh food and water every day, and he can have his sand bath for one night only. I almost forgot to feed him last night – by the time I did, he almost ripped the food from my fingers to stuff in his cheeks before it landed in the bowl.
It always seemed a bit strange to call a hamster “Totoro”, when everybody knows that Totoros are gigantic, and sleep in the undergrowth at the end of the garden.