coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Breaking the Sound Barrier

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. 

I 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?


  1. I've spent many a year of my life not doing the things I wanted to do just so that I didn't appear rude to someone else. The result is that I have a lot of things that I never got to do. Hard to shove them all into these few remaining years - but I'm giving it a try. I don't know him all..but I think maybe, just maybe your husband would like you to close the door. Is he maybe feeling the same thing? Does he want to shut his door? At anyrate,
    if shutting the door means you are a happier partner when you come out - then all is well and good.

    Wow, do I wish I'd had the blessing of music in my life. Born in the 50's, I had a wealth of music to listen to for 3 decades. But when I had my first child, life got so serious that the music shut down. I've never found a way back into it but my daughter tells me that my life is not health without it and I know she is right. I've been trying to look up songs on Youtube that I might want to put on a permanent those ipod/pad whatever's. And I love what I hear but I still don't quite know how to incorporate it into my life. Hmm, well I guess I am working with the challenge of opening a door and you are working with the challenge of closing a door. Life - such an interesting movie.

    1. I will ask him - you are probably right. And you are definitely right about life being an interesting movie.

      It IS hard to incorporate music into your life when you have gotten used to life without it. Especially since the technology for listening to it keeps changing all the time. I really don't like listening to music on earphones but I am determined to get over that real quick.

  2. Oh I hear you! My man has probably the world's largest cloud/ether music collection which he can access through his various gadgets, thanks to the wireless network, anywhere in the house AND garden. It is scary I tell you. I think he does it because he can and because it's - well - gadgety. In the middle of it all, I have gone completely silent it seems. At least we have fairly similar tastes. Our two offices have just the landing between them and we usually shout across that (and his music) when we feel the need to communicate. If things get rough, we send nasty little emails for a while until one of us gets up and makes tea.
    Hope the dentist was kind to your man.

    1. The dentist only charged him a little over $250. I see that as cause for celebration. Fun to hear how other couples manage the technological divide.

  3. I love this: "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." Retirement at its finest! Love you & T!!!

  4. My husband retired in May; I retired almost four years ago. It took me awhile to adjust, but I was finally getting the hang of being alone and making a life for myself. Now I am adjusting to him making an adjustment and it can be difficult. We only have one office and that is where he sits all day. I am secretly hoping that he is looking for a job.

  5. Ha! If only, right? I am REALLY sorry you don't have your own office. It makes a huge difference. Your previous comment on a different post is what inspired me to write this post - got me thinking about the issues that arise when 2 people are in the house together every day. Thanks for that.


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