Friday, September 14, 2007

The Waiting Window

There are three windows in our dining room. There’s a triple window taking up most of the wall looking out directly to the street and two smaller windows on the side, overlooking our neighbor’s drive way. This is one of them. The bare patch towards the bottom is the drive way and the two houses are across the street. Standing at this window and looking towards the right, you can see the cars approaching from Jefferson, pretty much the only logical access route to our house.

I have spent a lot of time looking out of this window, watching for headlights, trying to identify cars. If we are expecting guests, I’m usually not watching for them. I have other things to do, like cleaning bathrooms or making beds. In the past, two sets of circumstances led to my anxious waiting beside this window. Snow. Not the scant layer of unthreatening snow you see here, but blankets of the stuff. I remember the evenings I waited for Ernie (“I grew up in Iowa. I’m not afraid of snow”) to make his way carefully up the street after a day of teaching. In the days before cell phones there was little to do but wait. Of course I was worried, but there was also the question of dinner and a bunch of hungry kids. Should we wait or go ahead and eat? I suppose we solved the problem somehow, but I still remember the relief when the familiar wagon skidded past the window and in to the driveway.

This is also where I stood enveloped in darkness, waiting for teenagers to return home in the wee small hours. I can honestly say that our children were—with very rare exceptions—totally responsible and trustworthy. Ernie tended to wait up for them on the couch with a book, but when I was on duty, this is where I stood. Each time I caught sight of headlights, I was sure it had to be them. Eventually it was. But parents fall prey to apprehension and fear.

I no longer need to stand on guard near the window. But I do need to get some new wallpaper.


candyschultz said...

There was at least one night when you waited on the couch with a book. The very first night we slept in our house I saw you and couldn't wait to meet a neighbor who liked to read.

Beryl Ament said...

Wow! There's a fine line between a voyeur and a soulmate, and I think you realized that.

Funny thing: there is one middle-aged bachelor in the house in which you lived. Any teenage angst will come from the house erstwhile inhabited by the elderly O'Neills.

candyschultz said...

I wasn't voyeuring - I was going up the stairs. No curtains you know.