31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest: Unlocking Time


This morning, the sky looks like a giant canvas of sand art—grainy clouds sweep across a blooming horizon and I rise before the sun. I set my alarm early, to do this writing thing, but my body would rather stay in bed, my mind is sleepy. It’s cold outside. I try not to think about my pepper plants as I stare out the window at the sinking moon. We’re supposed to have another warm spell this week. Hold on, little ones, I whisper against the glass.

Yesterday, we had new French doors installed in the back of our house, a project long overdue. I may have mentioned before, I don’t like to let go of things. As the workers carried our old doors away I had to fight the urge to ask them to leave them behind. Wouldn’t they make a nice rustic table? Maybe some kind of outdoor project, with flowering vines? But I know better. If left, the doors would languish in the garage with all the other left-behinds: old laminate flooring, boxes of tile, half-empty cans of paint, forgotten homebrew equipment, all the neglected bicycles, and the boys’ old radio flyer. No, best to let them go.

When we ordered our door, the salesman neglected to tell us we had to buy our own doorknob and dead bolt. As a placeholder, the installers put the old one back in—the one that never locked properly, the one with the ugly corroded brass. So, when Jeff came home from work, we went for a quick walk and then over to The Home Depot. Who knew there were so many different kinds of doorknobs? We found a set that seemed perfect and were getting ready to make our way to the register when the one other person in the doorknob aisle approached us.

“If you all want a secure lock, you should buy Schlage instead of that one.”

He pointed to the package he was holding. “I’m a locksmith. I just learned from a guy in the CIA that the lock you are holding can be picked in eleven seconds.”

Jeff and I looked at each other and moved over to the Schlage section. The man went on to give several pointers about secure locks and what we should purchase. “If it says ‘G1,’ that’s what you want. That’s the most secure.” We found our G1 Schlage knob and dead bolt set, thanked the man, and left.

It seemed like a stroke of luck to be in the aisle the same time as a locksmith evangelist. I couldn’t help feeling well cared for as we drove on home. But the thing I noticed most was how the entire interaction felt so … spacious. Before the almost-empty nest, these kinds of errands were always cutthroat, get in/get out kinds of things. No time to talk with a locksmith evangelist in the doorknob aisle. What’s more, they were usually a divide and conquer episode. Rarely would Jeff and I go together to purchase something like a doorknob.

As we drove home from The Home Depot and night began to fall softly over our little valley, I whispered a prayer of thanks for changing seasons. And the way time seems to expand in this almost-empty nest.

This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series. I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here. 

Almost Empty



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