I spent a serene few days enjoying my small space last week. I took some time off from work and for four days I woke up to the quiet of my home, the leaves changing outside my window, the sunlight slanting through. My husband was at his job, my son away at college, my daughter at school and my mother just a few short steps across a courtyard. Feeling their presence in my house, I rambled amid the comfortable clutter of books and papers and family pictures, lovingly used candles, painted ceramic pieces made by my daughter, the birthday cake she whipped up for her dad on Thursday night after winning her semifinal soccer game, the armoire that holds my trusty laptop and a crocheted angel and keyboard dreams, the spanking new orange dutch oven my husband wanted for his birthday, the broken cabinet door in the kitchen, fresh laundry waiting to be folded in my son's room, the soothing maple floors scuffed in memory-rich places, the red wooden hearts and the batik green tablecloth my mother-in-law gave us one Christmas, all of it quietly breathing its history around me, allowing me slowness and simplicity, fostering peace.
I love my house on such days. It's a city apartment with abundant light and just enough room for our family, but not so much that we don't have to tumble over one another daily, relishing our individual absurdities, finding humor in small things. And for four days last week, I also got to be alone in this space for hours at a stretch, knowing that my loved ones would find their way back to me at some point in the day. In the meantime I could enjoy solitude untouched by loneliness—for me a rare and beautiful break in the proceedings, life on necessary pause.