On Tuesday my husband had a dental appointment in Orlando. I love that man like you would not believe; however, I am rarely in the house all by myself for an extended period of time and I was thrilled to have a few hours alone. An unavoidable loss of privacy occurs when two people living in the same house do not work outside the home. This has been an unexpected retirement challenge for me.
T and I have always had separate home offices in our 2 extra bedrooms. Throughout our long marriage, we spent most of each day apart. Our jobs were private spaces where we spent a huge part of most days. At home on the weekends we had
no problem amusing ourselves with private hobbies and interests. We have been together for over 44 years. We give each other a lot of space. It works for us.
assumed our private lives would continue in retirement. Theoretically, the only thing that would change is that we would now spend most of our time in the house. In fact, we still have our separate offices. We still spend most of the day happily pursuing our own hobbies and interests, but it seems less private now.
Why? Well, I think in moving to Central Florida we inadvertently broke the sound barrier.
Our old house in Upstate New York had 2 stories. His office was upstairs and mine was downstairs. The ceiling/floor between us provided a natural sound barrier. I used to joke that he had the upstairs and I had the downstairs and that was the secret to a long and happy marriage.
Now we live in a small house with high ceilings, all on one floor. The master bedroom is on one side of the house. The dining room, living room, kitchen are in the middle. The two extra bedrooms serving as our private spaces are on the other end. The doors of these two rooms mercilessly face each other, separated only by a short hallway leading into the bathroom that lies between us. I was prepared for seeing him more often when we retired, but it had simply never occurred to me that we would hear each other so much.
I now find myself reluctant to make noise because I do not want to disturb my husband. He is usually playing his guitar, so I worry that any music I play will interfere with his concentration. This is not something he has complained about or even mentioned, it is me overthinking. Anticipating problems is my forte. Big smile!
Think about it. We cannot even talk on the phone in our rooms without hearing each other. It seems kind of rude, but I find myself going outside the house to talk on the phone. I am not used to being overheard as I talk to friends or family. It is a bit disconcerting, even though logically I know T is not the kind of person who is interested in other people's conversations. I suspect he doesn't even listen to our conversations!
So what did I do in the hours T was at the dentist and I was home alone? Well, I have 4,127 songs on my computer. I swear I have not listened to one of them since I moved into this house, well over a year ago. I guess I have been overwhelmed by change and frozen in place. It happens!
I clicked on iTunes and played
Al Green, Amy Winehouse, and the Pogues at full blast. I listened to Joey Ramone sing about Sheena being a punk rocker until I started to feel a little foolish listening to the Ramones... I discovered I actually have some Taylor Swift songs. I do not think I have ever listened to them. I did not listen to them then, either. I was moved, as always, by the mystical Van Morrison. I reveled in the intensity of my girl, Carlene Carter, as she sang Stronger. I listened to the young Sandi Shaw singing Girl Don't Come. Moby Grape thrilled me with their glorious vocals and male angst on Bitter Wind, but I had to switch to another song before they segued into the psychedelic reverse. Been there, done that. I am too old to sit through that abrasive noise and pretend I like it.
I remembered that I went on a music buying frenzy in the years before I retired, buying up as many of the new generation of female British soul singers as I could find. I need to get back to those young women, they are waiting to be heard.
I ate Doritos and a
fudge brownie even though I was not hungry. I drank coffee until I shook. I did NOT do any laundry. I ran wild in an old lady kind of a way. It was really fun.
It took some doing, because I still do not know where all my stuff is, but I searched the remaining unpacked boxes in my room until I found my iPod and ear buds. I hate listening to music like that, but I need music in my life. More change, yuck! But hey, problem solved!
Another obvious solution to the privacy dilemma is to do something I have always tried to avoid, both in my personal and in my professional life. I think I need to shut the door to my office. Why does that seem like such a hard thing to do?