1985: 15 years old
Mom is taking my brothers to the movies? And, my sister is at a friend's house? Yes! Sweet freedom!
My mind quickly does inventory. There's ice cream in the freezer, that is, if no one eats it before they leave. We've got Footloose on VHS. I've got roughly two and a half hours all to myself. It's going to be a good night!
An hour later, everyone's gone but me and the cat. The house is quiet, but comfortable. I can feel myself relaxing in increments. I seem bigger, in a way, like I take up more space than I do when everyone's home. I can stretch out on the couch and not have a little brother sitting on my legs. I can talk on the phone and not have anyone listening in. I don't have to retreat into myself to feel a sense of privacy. It's all here, for the taking, right now. I can be loud. I can listen to whatever music I want to listen to. I can try on all of my sister's clothes and she'll never know!
2012: 43 years old
My husband is at work and my two older boys are at school. I dropped my youngest off at preschool and came home to an empty house. I told myself over the summer that I'd use those two and a half hours productively every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I'd exercise. I'd clean. I'd write.
But, I find myself acting like I'm 15.
I have the whole house to myself. It's quiet, but comfortable. I eat leftover birthday cake without having to share. I watch whatever I want on TV. I've had enough Power Rangers, Curious George and Harry Potter to last me a lifetime. Game of Thrones looks good. Maybe I'll give that a try. There's no need to worry about the rating.
I can sit on the couch without children pressing into my personal space. I dearly love them, but, man it's good to stretch out.
Editors note: This post was written 3 years ago and published for the first time tonight.