This Quiet House

This house is quiet tonight. I’m tucked into an ill-lit corner on the 4th floor and I feel its size – all of its large dark emptiness lying heavy on my mind. 

The clumsy stairwell is shrouded. I heard a cat jump onto a wooden floor. But it was muffled in this dark silence. The blackness of the tiny-paned windows reflect a fractured pale glow from the old table lamp.
The kids are asleep on the floor above. Evan is shattered and grumpy after shifting loaded pallets at Homebase all night – and he’s still got school in the morning. Ana went off in a rage after I said her hair was greasy (but I washed it last night wailed she). I heard her sobbing with anger for a while but it’s stopped now. Jamie is quiet in his self-contained usual-ness. I hear nothing from his corner of the 5th floor. 
I think Robert is working on the 2nd floor. Sifting through policy documents and mission statements and audit results and improvement plans. He’ll be there til the wee sma’ hours. At least until 2am.
Meg phoned when it was light to say she’ll be back tomorrow and that the flat-share viewing in Glasgow went well, she’ll decide on a rental by the end of the week. As she described the room she’d rent and the furniture she’d need and the diy repairs and paint required, my vision wandered out over the valley across the rooftops of Long Row and Double Row to the woods and fields of the other side.
My Row – New Lanark – though my house is at the very bottom of this photo
and because of the slope, benefits from an additional floor.
 I let myself imagine I was that crow circling effortless on the currents above the river. I love Meg. She was so full of excitement about this room and this flat. She was so sure it would be big – high ceilings, big rooms. I started to say that I knew that street, that I had friends who lived that end when I was at Uni, that my brother had stayed in the Street adjoining, that the flats were all ex-Corporation flats and modestly sized. But I stopped myself. I understand – it’s a sore realisation – that I make myself unpopular with my own children. I know this as a baleful but permanent reality. So full I am, with all this experience and unwelcome knowledge  that bursts bubbles and dreams. Better that I haud ma wheesht from time to time.
Long Row on the lhs of the photo with the gable end of my home in the top rhs
Louis will be navigating the velvet darkness of Ayrshire, probably passing the Louden Hill as I type. It’s a dangerous road he travels and when all’s said and done, he’s a 19 yr old lad behind the wheel of a ton of speeding metal. He hit a deer last month. Well – technically the deer hit him, running splat into the side of his car. But I worry. Like every parent, I know.   
So the house is quiet. And I see this silent empty darkness of it as the beginning of a different time in this house that has been all noise and happening. All things pass.

6 thoughts on “This Quiet House

  1. I too had a quiet night last night. An empty house after my niece's dinner which expanded into a fully-fledged raving party the night before.. I love your place! The stone walls are divine and the bright green grass is gorgeous. Oh this life! There is always something to worry about, gaze over, bite one's tongue. And negotiating with the young adults, remaining in their favour and yet driving lessons home. I'm half-wild at my daughter (who conspired with niece) after the other night. Wasn't sure whether I wanted the last batch of revellers to sail away back to town, or finish mopping the kitchen floor – I ended up doing it at midnight!! Xcat

  2. Ha Cat! Isn't that always the way. We end their nights cleaning and mopping. Being 'boring' they say. Being 'responsible' we say – because they won't do it in the morning despite their promises and because we'd rather then than face it in the morning…
    The house was a lucky find and has provided almost a swallows and amazons type of existence for the kids. Plenty of freedom, lots of countryside, swimming in the river and fishing etc. Still think I'd swap for your part of the world!!

  3. Five floors! you were a glutton for stairs, that's for sure. -) We have a biggish house that rambles sideways rather than upwards and it felt very empty when our two left home one by one. Now DH and I love the space and the quiet.

    A lovely, reflective post.

  4. Thanks Perpetua.
    We've often described our kids (who either have little memory of our previous home – or were born in this house) as 'mountain goats' – because they've always handled the stairs better than the rest of us increasingly creaky adults.
    Sometimes I yearn for a cottage – single storey and where the only steps are the ones at the front and back doors. But it is such a quirky big warm house that I know that I will miss it when we are finally on our own and have to decide it's far too big for us (it's 10 apt)…
    I like the thought of a house 'rambling sideways' – especially the 'rambling' bit. I've always thought that perfect houses always rambered or meandered…

  5. I have regular experience of how it will be later as both my boys go to see their dad and leave me to it at home. This month they'll have been gone for 4 weeks which is a long time. I can see the future before it hits.

  6. God, yes, Sarah. It is a long time and you must miss them.
    But knowing they return means a chance to savour the peace and quiet?
    The older ones come and go now. Sometimes (like Meg) returning only for a night or two here and there. Whilst the younger ones are still here, peace and the chance to reflect is stolen from nights like above. And I enjoy it – though I think it's the 'forever-ness' of us getting older and eventually them leaving that I find a bit unsettling at times.
    But I wouldn't hold the clock back even if I could…

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