Everyone is home now. The kitchen is a mess, and my children's rooms are overrun with paraphernalia carted from college, suitcases with clothes exploding, plastic bins, shoes, comforters, sleeping bags, a lamp and a mirror artlessly leaning against a door. Music is pounding from the bathroom where my son is shaving and trimming his hair. I walk out of my bedroom and see my daughter in the kitchen, dancing from the waist down, her socked feet sliding back and forth across the hardwood in a kind of moonwalk while she leans her elbows on the counter, removing blood red polish from her fingernails. My husband lies in bed, reading on his Kindle after the long ride home from Ithaca with our son, who drove the whole way. They packed the car with his remaining bins, ate brunch in Collegetown, and stopped one last time to buy bottles of wine at the vineyard on the way out.
Our boy hadn't been home one hour when his friends started calling, the very same friends with whom he has just shared the four-year-long college experience. His housemates from this year, five of them, live all around the city, in Westchester, in Long Island, in Connecticut. They are all getting together in the city tonight, unable to stay away from each other, in withdrawal from an experience that was all consuming. And his other friends, the ones from middle school, from high school, who did the academic march in lock-step with him, they too are returning to the city after four years away. They too are reaching out to one another, falling back on the familiar social networks of home.
Our daughter has been reconnecting with friends, too. The kids she spent those years going to the farm with, they got together for a sleepover Thursday night, so I didn't see her for almost two days. But today we had one of those soul-restoring girl days, the two of us together talking, sharing, while the boys had their bonding time on the road. Tonight I lay in bed next to my husband and said, "Listen to that." "To what?" he asked. And then we were silent, taking in the sounds in different parts of the house, the ambient noise where so recently there was only quiet. "That," I said, "is the sound of our lives, changing again."