FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Lonesome Places.

by Dave Markwell

Last week I enjoyed a rare and precious experience for me: a vacation. I spent 10 days in the Eastern Washington heat surrounded by family and friends. I delighted in some golf and cards and meat and beer. I swam and read and threw balls for kids and dogs. I was unbathed and unconcerned, shirtless and shoeless, tan, a little drunk and all the way happy. It was sweeeet.

The final weekend wrapped up with “Boy’s Weekend”, the annual debacle celebrating my best buddy, Dan’s, birthday. This is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s a loud, often vulgar, always over-served tribute to bacon, BBQ, beer and longtime friendships. We laugh and swear and eat and re-tell the well-worn stories of our histories. We reconnect and are reminded of things we’ve tried to forget. It’s a special time and thank God it’s only once a year.

On the Sunday following “Boy’s Weekend”, the various crews packed up. Rubbing eyes and scratching heads, fretting the long drives home, the fellas left in several waves. Having suffered this drive many times in the past, I have recently taken to staying Sunday night and leaving Monday morning. I get some hateful looks from the drivers as they say their goodbyes while I sit in a reclining lawn chair in the yard with my book in hand, relieved that I am not climbing into a vehicle. Their envy at my position is lovely…for me. This is a nice time.

As the last of my old friends flips me off from the driveway, I lay back and close my eyes and listen to the silence. The property that was until very recently a bustling, noisy, hive of energy and activity has transformed into something else. It was quiet, and frankly, a little bit lonesome. Sitting alone in the grass, gazing at the river with my dogs at my feet, I felt some peace, but also some melancholy.

I grabbed a bar of soap and heading into the water for a “river bath”. I busied myself with some final clean-up chores and a nap, but couldn’t shake the unsettling sense of aloneness. This aloneness that, hours earlier, I would have sold my children for wasn’t the bargain I anticipated. It was just lonely. I went to bed early and left at sunrise.

As I examine this strange phenomenon, I have no clear conclusion, except that maybe life is just better with other people around. Now, I can certainly enjoy some quiet time by myself, but just not for very long. On this busy weekend, perhaps the transition from noisy to silent was so abrupt that I couldn’t adjust to it, but the loneliness was real.

In a few short weeks, my son is heading to college. This boy who has been making noise in my house for so long will no longer be popping the toaster at 3 am or showering at other ungodly hours. Understanding my preference for some noise, or at least the people the noise represents, I’m a little uneasy about missing this kid and his noises. My home will be a lonesome place without him.

This may just be one of the sad parts of life, if not the saddest: the silences. People leave us. People move, change, or die and we’re left behind to sit in our lawn chairs and miss them when their gone. With this in mind, it’s probably a good idea to not miss them while they’re here. Though the noises can sometimes be a little too loud and occasionally annoying, taking a little more effort to share and appreciate life’s moments with those we love is not wasted time. It’s the most important time we ever have and it doesn’t last and it’s more fun than a quiet house, or a quiet lawn, or a quiet life…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the new Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, Dave needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.

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