from The Hundred Year Old House by Rebecca Makkai


Another adjustment: all day long, in front of his pen or his typewriter, he was alone as he’d ever been. But at night he was a “we.” Something he hadn’t felt since childhood, since he’d climbed into bed with his sister in the afternoons, since she’d let him wear her shoes. He was part of a first person plural. p 248

This morning I am alone.

As alone as one can be with

3 dogs

2 bunnies

and a boastful cat.


There is a silence

that permeates these rooms

filling the air with possibility.

M is at work

and I am delighted

to have the house to myself.


I head out to the porch.

My new-found writing space



The desk is a sewing machine table

and the shelves are filled

with gardening supplies,

winter boots and other forgotten things–

but in my eyes it is perfect.

I wish the ocean were nearer,

but after I start writing,

the ideas begin spilling out

and I find that I am riding the crest of my words.

Their effervescence lifts me up.

My spirit is buoyed

and deadlines no longer matter.


T is at camp and I am thinking about him.

When we dropped him off on Sunday

there were kids running towards him–

arms out stretched waiting to be hugged,

to be lifted and twirled around.

This is how you say hello in Circus

Their squeals of joy

conveyed more than any words ever could.

I am so happy for him.

He waits all year for these two weeks at circus camp.

He tells us

(or anyone who asks for that matter)

that being there feels like home.


I can see why.


Watching them all together,

each piece fitting like the perfect puzzle piece,

I remember my life before husband, before son…

I worked as a trainer,

traveling the country, setting up bookstores.

Those walls, books, boxes and staff

the sum total of my world for three weeks.


There were certain friends

–other trainers from other cities–

that I longed to be paired with.

Together we saw Bangor, Plano, Princeton,

Columbus, Creve Coeur and NYC;

or at least as much as you can cram in

during the wee hours and Sunday afternoons.


It was hard work,

but our imaginations and longing to see the sights,

were no match for our weariness.

We would often collapse in a heap,

a sleeping pile of puppies

ready to greet the morning and fill up the shelves.


I wish more than anything

for a time machine to transport me back.

To the days when I belonged to a tribe.

We moved as a fluid entity.

A pack of twentysomethings eager to take on the world,

armed with books and enthusiasm.


But while T is at camp,

M and I are enjoying being a we

instead of our usual three.

Rediscovering each other like

countries we haven’t visited

in oh so long.

Remembering the days way back when

when it was just the two of us

and a dog.


This evening we will be content to sit next to each other,

a book in one hand

while the fingers of our other hands intertwine.

As much as I would love to go back,

to see those friends

to be a part of my trainer tribe,

the present is where I want to be:

grey hairs, wrinkles and all.


Life moves forward, yet we spin in circles.

Always coming back to the beginning,

before we go off again.

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