I’m not sure what the shelf life is for “What are you doing with all your free time now that the kids are gone?” but I’m still hearing it on a regular basis, and we’re entering year two. That’s the second year of a clean, fresh-smelling, private space, I mean, lonely, desolate nest.
Some people ask delicately, with a smile and a tilt of the head, which begs my tender response, “Missing them.” Sniff. Others ask with a twinkle in their eye, to which I respond, “doing it with the door open.”
The truth is, I do miss the childrenꟷa little bit almost every single day. Not so much on Friday and Saturday nights.
Last summer at this time, just before our youngest two kids moved out, I asked a friend of mine what was in store for her and her husband, now that their youngest was also skipping town.
“So, do you guys have any plans for that big empty house?”
“No idea. Try not to drink every night?”
I thought that was a pretty good answer, but I wondered: Did she mean, try not to celebrate every night, or try not to drown her sorrows every night? I decided not to ask. I’m not sure if most people realize this, but what one is doing with one’s nest can be a loaded question.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a hobby that just might be the thing that keeps me sane, instills a sense of adventure in my life, and reminds me that I am, after all, not dead. It’s a sport that blends my love for the outdoors with my enjoyment of a healthy, but mindless activity. It has just the right amount of physical rigor one would want at my age, and it’s easy on the joints, except the right elbow. Perhaps best of all, there is minimal preparation needed; after the initial outlay for equipment, which lasts for quite a long time if properly stored, there isn’t a whole lot to it. Did I mention it’s competitive? Well, it is. Perhaps best of all, you’ve got something to show for it when you finish. My new answer to people when they say, “What are you gonna do with all your time?”
Extreme ironing is a thing. As the Wikipedia page explains, it involves traveling to remote, sometimes dangerous locations, and ironing. That’s right: setting up an ironing board, and what I assume must be a battery-operated iron, and ironing someone’s damn clothes. There’s even a governing body – the Extreme Ironing Bureau (EIB) that provides a list of guidelines.
Just in case that hobby doesn’t work out, I mean, I do still have to work for several more years, so I can’t just traipse around the globe or country, ironing board and iron in hand, visiting exotic locales, I have a Plan B: scootering.
My arthritic back has rendered my running days over, and I miss them. My husband tries to run regularly, and if I could just join him, we would have a joint public activity. I could get both a manual scooter, like a Razor, for the days I’m feeling really fit. I could also get one of those automated, stand up scooters, like the ones you rent for sightseeing, for the days I’m just a little tired, or drunk.
I told my husband about my idea to accompany him on his runs around town.
“I wish I could run with you.”
“Yeah, me too. That would be nice.”
I know, I’ll get a scooter and scooter along while you run.”
“So, we’re gonna be that couple.”
“If you think about it, it’s possible we already are that couple.”
I explained the beauty of my idea in more detail. He got that look on his face that his Norwegian people do when they hear something frightfully stupid, but don’t like to get involved in the strenuous act of talking, or even worse, forming an opinion, which risks the dreaded conversation breaking out. Suffice to say that I did not feel supported.
I’m guessing that Plan A, extreme ironing, is something he will get behind. Anything to keep me off the scooter.