Friday, 26 September 2008

Sleepless In A Country Town

We picked up student son from university, last Friday, as he wanted to come home for the weekend. I was overcome with joy when I realised that he was bringing 3 weeks' washing with him. Hurrah! Lots of dark clothes to accompany my dark socks in the washing machine and make up a load. I wouldn't have to wear my odd socks, for a while, then. Hmmm.....

The following evening, student son had arranged to go out with some of his friends. They were travelling by 'bus into the nearest city, a journey of about 13 miles, to visit a couple of clubs. When I went to bed that night, my son still hadn't returned from his evening out, but I wasn't too worried, as he had told me that he and his friends expected to be too late to catch the last 'bus, so intended to return by taxi.

I couldn't sleep, because I had already fallen asleep on the settee downstairs, during the evening, so I read, until I felt tired. Every time I tried to lie down and sleep, however, I found that I couldn't settle and I didn't finally sleep until my third attempt. After a couple of hours, I woke up and went into student son's bedroom to check his bed, but it was still empty. It was 3 am and I began to conjure up pictures of student son lying alone, in the gutter, in some dark side street. He had spent the night away from home, without letting me know, on 2 other occasions and each time, he had stayed with the same friend. I reassured myself that, once again, he would be staying at his friend's house.

About 2 hours later, I woke again and checked student son's bed. He was still missing. I checked the 'phones for messages or texts, but found nothing. By this time, I imagined that student son had probably been run over, whilst lying alone, in the gutter, in the same dark side street. Alternatively, I imagined him telling me the next day, that I had been silly for worrying about him, when he had only been at his friend's house.

At 7 am, I woke again, realised that student son still hadn't come home and imagined him being rescued from the gutter, in the dark side street, by 2 paramedics and then being rushed to Accident and Emergency, in an ambulance, with the siren wailing. I told myself not to be silly. My 3 sons had each worried me on the odd occasion, by staying out late, or not coming home at all. Each time, I had been concerned in case something had happened to them, but my fears had always proved unfounded.

At 8 am, I texted student son, asked him where he was and told him that his eldest brother was coming to lunch, with his girlfriend, so that they could see him before he went back to university. At 10 am, I texted again and asked if he was okay. I knew that if he had been admitted into hospital, I would have been contacted by now, so I was beginning to feel annoyed about being ignored by him.

I was in the bathroom at about 10.30 am, when I heard the front door open and then I heard student son's voice. I sighed with relief, realising that he must have been at his friend's house, after all, and he had obviously just walked home from there.

I went out onto the landing, leaning over the rail, at the top of the stairs, just in time to see my son taking off his t-shirt. I was puzzled by the fact that he had several round stickers on his chest and a sticking plaster in the crook of his right elbow. He glanced up at me, suddenly, and said 'Guess who spent the night in A and E, then?'

Monday, 15 September 2008

Odd Socks

As I search through my sock drawer, I realise that I will have to wear odd socks, today. I bought 10 pairs, a few months ago, from Boots on a 2 for 1 offer. I bought them to wear with my jeans, to replace my old, black ones, which were beginning to wear thin. The new ones were all dark colours, but distinctly different. Some were black with grey toes and heels, some were grey, with a black pattern, some were black with a grey pattern. Even my husband would have noticed, if I'd mixed them up with his dark, plain man socks. Somehow, 2 of my distinctive socks have gone missing and today, I will have to wear a black one with a grey toe and heel and a grey one with a black pattern. I've been able to manage without wearing my odd socks, up until now, but my youngest son has gone back to university again, and without his dark clothes, I don't have enough dark washing to make up a load. I haven't got used to the idea, yet.

It's a sad time of year for a lot of mothers, whose sons or daughters are going off to university, leaving a gap behind them, which, somehow, can never be filled. It is my youngest son's second year at university, but I am finding his absence harder to deal with this year. My eldest son moved out 3 weeks ago and my middle son, as well as working 7 days a week, is now spending most of his time at his new girlfriend's house.

I always assumed that my 3 sons would leave home one at a time, over a period of a few years, as there is a gap of 6 years between the eldest and youngest, but, instead, they have gone over a period of a few weeks. Middle son and youngest son haven't moved out totally, of course, but it certainly feels that way, at the moment.

My husband and I helped my eldest son and his girlfriend to move into their rented house, which is about 30 minutes' travelling distance away from us, but we've heard very little from them since. They came over when we had a barbecue, a couple of weeks ago and we've taken some of eldest son's belongings over on a couple of occasions, but that's all that we've seen of them, so far. Eldest son became less and less comunicative when he reached adolescence, about 12 years ago, so, in recent years, I began to realise that, when he did finally move out, it was unlikely that he would bother too much about keeping in touch.

Suddenly, we have 3 spare bedrooms and the house, which was once full to overflowing with people and voices, is now mainly empty and still. When darkness falls, only a solitary room is illuminated in a house which once exploded with light, on the skyline.

I pull on my odd socks, go downstairs to the kitchen and switch on the radio. I turn the volume up a little louder than it needs to be, whilst I half fill the washing machine with dark clothing. I must go to Boots, later, to buy some more socks.