Bachelordom: Day 1

bach·e·lor (băch′ə-lər, băch′lər)
1. A man who has never been married.
2. A person who has completed the undergraduate curriculum of a college or university and holds a bachelor’s degree.
3. A male animal that does not mate during the breeding season.
4. A young knight in the service of another knight in feudal times.

GatesFamPhoto2015As a happily wed man with two wonderful children, being a “bachelor” for a few days is simply a state of mind.  My wife, children, brother-in-law, and my folks are all out of town at the same time…leaving me to fend for myself.  There was a time in my life that I actively sought out being alone.  When I graduated college, I drove straight to a small turn of the century cabin in the woods of the Adirondacks and spent my days alone in the wilderness without electricity or running water while I gathered my thoughts.  I later found a place in New York City without a roommate where I slowly built a mountain of dirty dishes, laundry, and cigarette butts.  At one point I ran out of socks, underwear, and dishes.  Logically, I bought new socks, underwear, and dishes instead of washing the old ones…as one does as a bachelor.  Then, in 2003, I met my wife (Kate).  We moved in together in 2004 and have shared a roof ever since.

It is not that I have not been alone since 2004, I have.  I have gone on business trips, Kate and I lived in separate cities when she went to grad school, and I’ve had the boys to myself while Kate goes on a trip.  However, I have never been home alone without any family for as long as I can remember.  I’m always the one going somewhere.  I’m never just…home…alone.  It scared the crap out of me!  What would I do with all that time?!

I made a list of possible activities to keep me occupied after work:

  • Prep the upstairs bathroom for painting
  • Refinish the basement stairs
  • Build an Adirondack set of chairs
  • Clean out closet & donate to AMVETS
  • Paint windowsills in the guest room
  • Reinforce newel post at top of stairs
  • Paint ceiling in kid’s bedroom

I looked at this list long and hard.  I could definitely pull a project from the list and keep myself very occupied.  Painting the kid’s ceiling seemed like a clear winner since I can’t do it when they are here and its an indoor activity so I can do it after dark.  I then added one more item to the list:

  • Drink Jameson and watch TV

That seemed much more in my wheelhouse.  Yeah…screw painting the ceiling!

Throughout the day I received texts from Kate and the family with updates about their road trip, pictures of the boys, and stories of family fun.  It knocked the wind out of me.  I missed my boys.  I had spent that morning hugging them over and over again telling them how much I would miss them.  I cried a little when it was time to go to work, I don’t like being separated from my family.  Kate called my office numerous times to tell me she loved me.  I felt loved…and abandoned.  I was sad.  I just wanted it to be next week and have them back.

Then I realized it was late and everyone had left the office.  I was just working to avoid going home.  It was time.  I took a deep breath and went home…alone.

The house felt weird…like it was trapped in time.  There were no little boys destroying my furniture, playing loudly, or arguing about having to take a bath.  Nope.  Even the cat avoided me on Day 1.  No love.  Ace Hardware had been closed on the way home, so if I was going to paint I needed to change and head over to Home Depot.  I drank a Jameson on the rocks instead.  I flipped on the TV and immediately my phone rang, it was my best friend beckoning me to come over and drink his whiskey and grill steaks.  Oh alright…if I have to.

jamesonI fired up a cigar in the house.  Usually I smoke outside but…who’s going to care?  It’ll air out by next week and I was halfway out the door.  My buddy lives a few blocks away and I decided to hoof it instead of driving…can’t remember the last time I walked somewhere alone.  Felt great.  Smoking a cigar and strolling through my neighborhood wearing flip-flops.  Upon arrival I was greeted with much joy and told, “I’ve never hung out with ‘bachelor‘ you!”  Its true, every time we’ve hung out I’ve either been with my kids, had to go home for dinner, or felt bad that I didn’t go home for the kid’s bedtime.  He’d never known me without obligation pulling me home.  So we drank bourbon, grilled steaks, listened to music, and talked till a little after 11 PM.  It was great.  I started remembering what it was like to do what I want, when I want.  Bachelordom looked good on me.

The obligation of work the next morning pulled me home and the walk home was simply delightful.  Alone in the dark…strolling, not rushing.  Where did I need to be?  Nowhere.  That’s where.  When?  Anytime.  So I drank water and dozed on the couch till I realized it was late.  I headed upstairs to go to bed and that’s when I realized my temporary state of bachelordom sucked at night.  The door to the boys’ room stood open revealing their empty beds.  There were no sounds of them breathing heavy as they slept.  There was no one to tuck in.  There were no cuddles, no hugs, no kisses…just an empty room.  I walked into my room and was greeted by a bed for two…but there was only me.  No one to talk to.  No one to cuddle.  No one to kiss goodnight.  My stomach sank.

Gates BoysI called to the cat.  She howled from another room in the house…I think she said, “Impostor!”  I was sleeping alone that night.  I slid into bed where the boys had left me stuffed animals to cuddle with, I had spoken to them earlier in the day on the phone and they said, “It’s so you don’t get lonely at night Dada.”  I gripped the stuffed frog and stuffed eagle close to me as I turned off the light.  I closed my eyes and tried to picture their sleeping faces, the images came to me immediately.  I felt Max’s hair against my cheek, saw Dodge’s chest rise and fall as he slept, and heard their little snores of innocence.  I drifted off to sleep…but it was a light sleep.  I awoke around 4 AM on the wrong side of the bed – clearly I had spent the past 4 hours scooting over further and further in my sleep, searching for Kate but finding only more bed…till at last I found the edge and my brain woke me up to tell me something wasn’t right.  It was hard going back to bed after that, loneliness set back in and I spent the rest of the night dreaming of my boys cuddled up in my arms.

Being an honorary bachelor is fun during the day, but it is lonely at night.  3 days to go.  Wish me luck…or buy me a Jameson…or both.

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