Monday, November 2, 2009

The world beyond my front door

Talk about cocooning. I think dh & I could be the poster children for it. Most nights, we come home from work (perhaps stopping at the supermarket en route to pick up whatever we need for dinner that night), close the front door & don't open it again until the next morning. Especially at this time of the year, when the weather gets cold and dark.

Safe and snug inside our cozy cocoon, it's easy to shut out the rest of the world, to focus on each other, and on the good things we share in our life together.

Even if we don't have the children we once dreamed about.

One summer evening, a few years ago, we had to go out around 7:30 p.m. As we drove past several schools, we were somewhat amazed at what we saw. Streets lined with cars, spilling out of parking lots. Field after field, full of children in motion, wearing brightly covered jerseys, playing soccer or baseball. Throngs of parents standing or sitting along the sidelines, in canvas lawn chairs, clutching portable mugs of coffee and video cameras, cheering them on.

It really hit me then: there was a whole world out there that, until that point -- sheltered as we were in our cozy, childless cocoon -- we really weren't aware existed. (Dimly, perhaps, but not in a real, tangible way.) A world beyond our grasp, beyond our comprehension.

I was reminded of that day a few weeks ago, when we were on vacation. We decided to get up early (the vacation equivalent of early!) one day & take the train into the city. Normally, we head for the train around 6:30 a.m.; this day, it was two hours later. On the main road near our house, there are two high schools -- a Catholic high school to the north of us and a public high school to the south of us.

At 6:30 a.m., the sidewalks are mostly empty, aside from the occasional early morning jogger or dogwalker. At 8:30 a.m., the sidewalks were teaming with teenagers, travelling in both directions -- lugging backpacks, shivering in too-thin jackets, kilts hiked thigh-high (Catholic) and jeans slung low (public), sneaking cigarettes and trying to look cool (both)(some things never change in 30+ years….). Traffic, too, was much heavier, much to dh's amazement. Once again, we marvelled at this whole world that we were unaware of, coming to life while we were already at work in our cubicles in the city.

I had similar thoughts as I watched the excited trick or treaters outside my door on Saturday night, beaming parents bearing cameras hovering behind them. (Smile on my face. Tears occasionally stinging at my eyes.)

There's a whole world beyond my doorstep that I really know nothing about (just as they know very little about the life dh & I lead).

We might have ideas about what each other's lives are like. We can guess. We can speculate. But we don't really know.

I can watch. I can observe. I can hover around the edges. I suppose if I really wanted to, I could venture out with a friend or relative while they take their children trick or treating.

But it wouldn't be the same.

It's a world I cannot really enter, can't really take part in.

A world that briefly tantallized me, with all of its promises.

A world that isn't, and never will be, mine.


  1. I so understand how you feel! We are the same way. In our house after work, on our computers...

  2. I tend to go into my cocoon, also. The last few weeks especially.

    I can really relate to this post on a lot of levels...I interact with that other world sometimes, with my sisters' kids, but really, it's not my world.

  3. It is strange how those circles run and can seem so foreign and excluding.

    I'll never forget the heartbreak when I realized Hubby & I didn't get an invite to one of our good friends' daughter's first birthday party when our other mutual friends were invited. Then I realized we were the only ones without kids. Ouch.

    Holding you in my heart . . .

  4. This is a very good post. I've always liked our cocoon. It is a strange feeling to change a routine and realize that another world is going on -- I'm on a different side of it now, but my days begin to wind down very quickly. One recent Friday night I was rushing home from the store at 7 pm and saw so many younger adults and teenagers just beginning their nights. I felt pretty disconnected.

    When I think back to my interactions with our little niece and nephews -- no, it wasn't the same. Not at all. Not even close. : (

  5. Oh, Loribeth, this was a fantastic post. I'm not even sure what to say about it, except that I felt everything you were saying. You touched on many levels the feeling of "life as it SHOULD be" that so many of us face.

  6. What a beautiful post. My heart was aching reading it...for you, for me, for all of us that want so badly to be a part of "that world".

    I'm abiding with you...

  7. Ellen, lol -- we were coming home from FIL's around 9:30 on a Saturday night & there was obviously a party on our street -- tons of cars, young people milling around. Dh said, "Doesn't anyone stay at home anymore?" lol I said, "Do you not remember when we were that age? The party didn't really get started until at least 10!" Things sure change when you get older...!

  8. This post is so raw, so honest. I was really moved.

  9. What a sadly sweet and poignant post. To be honest, I don't think enough about that "whole other world", the one that could have been so vastly different. Thank you for opening my eyes yet again in your beautiful and effective way and helping me to see things in another perspective.

  10. us homebodies do need our little hideaways!

  11. This post struck so close to home for me. I always feel on the outside of things just like you described. The Hubs and I are aware of things that go on in families, but it doesn't really affect us. It doesn't include us. I can remember attending the community fall festival last year and it was all set up for families. There were so many families around with little just made my eyes tear up. We left after only half an hour. Its a strange feeling when there is a world that is so close, yet so far away from the one you experience.

  12. Here from the roundup....

    I can so relate to your post 2! Very touching ~ you captured the feelings of a childless couple in a fertile world so perfectly.

    We took our niece to a community event yesterday and it felt so weird to be *out* among all of the felt *safe* to be back home in our cocoon.

  13. Arrived here from the crème de la crème list.

    A moving post, which I'm glad you picked to share with passersby.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your daughter Katie.