The raised voices drew me closer to my kitchen counter. “No way, man, the Bears are terrible,” I heard one man say. “If you think you’re going to tell me that they are better than the Vikings, I have to remind you about that quarterback of yours!”
I smiled. I was hosting an event for parents from my kids’ elementary school, and a group of men were gathered around my kitchen island. They were talking about football, I figured, and so I wasn’t really comprehending the specifics. Instead, I just listened to how they teased each other, and the good-natured laughing that interrupted their increasingly excited claims about various teams. I even saw two men high-five after one of them told a particularly engaging story.
For a moment, I felt something tug inside me, but I ignored it. I was the hostess, after all. No need to get emotional.
The next day, I went on my morning run, and thought about the party the night before. It had gone well. Everyone seemed to have fun and I felt successful at the end of the night for hosting such a bit event. And then I thought about those men, standing around the kitchen island, talking and laughing about a sport I don’t follow.
I had to stop running almost immediately. I leaned against a lamppost and choked a bit, before I crouched down and covered my face. Why the hell was I crying?
As I often do when I’m running, I had let my mind wander. I wasn’t remembering the faces of the men at my counter, but more the feeling of their laughter and raised voices.
I was remembering what it felt like to have men in my house.
Yes, I have two boys, and yes, my dad lives with me. But living with them is not like living with Shawn.
When Shawn was alive, men were all over my house. They came to see him, to watch sporting events, to drink beer at the kitchen counter. They talked in the same raised voices and ribbed each other in the same joking manner as the men did that evening at my house. I don’t want to overgeneralize too much here, but it seems that there’s often a special way that men relate to each other. It’s so different from how I relate to my female friends.
And, God, I miss it.
Yes, I mostly miss Shawn. I’d have him back in a heartbeat even if it meant I could never see another man again. But I also miss being married to Shawn because it was just a different life than I have now. There were more parties, more people, more everything. And there were certainly more men.
God, how I miss having men at my kitchen counter. To be fair, they are still there sometimes, just not with the same frequency that they once were. These days, it’s much more of a rarity that I hear the sounds of men’s voices in my kitchen.
I guess that’s what I was thinking about when I was running and had to stop to compose myself. I did finish my run that day, though I had to look down at the ground for a few blocks, worried that my tears would scare other runners. (Who the hell cries when they run? Me, apparently.) But when I came home, I sat at the kitchen counter for a long time. I thought about what was going through my head.
I miss Shawn and I miss the life we once had, I realized. I miss the life where our house was filled with people every weekend and the one where I always had a Saturday night date.
But it’s not just that. I still have a decent social life. It’s that I miss the intangible things about Shawn – the things I didn’t know I was going to miss. If you had asked me right after Shawn died to list a hundred things I would miss about him two years later, I wouldn’t have said, “men talking about football in my kitchen.” I probably would thought that it would be nice to not listen to such drivel.
And yet, I do miss it. I miss my old life – the life when men were always at my kitchen counter, laughing and teasing each other about things that never really mattered.
“The Super Bowl Shuffle!” I’d heard someone excitedly say that night. And then a few of the men chanted the words together.
I cried the next day, thinking about it. But, mostly, I loved hearing their voices.
It made my house feel so warm. So alive.