Silence / by Chakriya Phal

TJ left for a seven day camping trip in the Utah desert and so it was just me and Birdie figuring each other out. I'm embarrass to admit this but I was scared that I would fail to be a solo parent to her. I semi-dreaded TJ leaving, he normally puts her to bed and without my boob magic I imagined Birdie and I struggling with each other. But I was also semi-delighted for him to leave so I could have the house to myself and relish in silence for a whole week. Then he left and lo and behold, I couldn't bear the quiet those first few days. Loneliness would creep up in the solitary moments of washing the dishes, or sweeping the floors. The first few days I listened to an insane amount of podcasts, I played I LOVE LUCY simply for background noise, and I sang to myself to keep the loneliness at bay. I took Birdie to the zoo so I could be around other people, I had coffee with a friend, and I signed up for yoga because I needed that community. Ironically, I was the only one in class. You're a slay one, Universe.

I had been practicing walking meditation for the past month and yet it was still hard to listen to the emptiness in my home. I think I lost my mind a little. I didn't want Birdie to go to bed because I needed her babbling to keep me company. Sound has always been my comfort and this was the first time I lived in a neighborhood that was quiet at night (and mostly through the day). I grew up in a vibrant neighborhood, Khmer music mixed with rap mixed with Mariachi, the ice cream truck rolling down the street, neighbors yelling at their kids, people always coming and going. There were always noise around me so I never felt alone. So what happened after the seven days? Birdie and I were in sync, it wasn't hard to give her what she needed when I was present. I had the best sleep in years-nosnoring husband. I woke up ready for the day instead of groggy, I went running in the neighborhood without my earbuds on, I read a lot, I played with my daughter and we belly-laughed, and I became more patient. I was really enjoying my time alone. On the last day, when TJ phoned me that he was heading home, I was looking out the kitchen window and noticed the lilacs bushes were in full bloom. I was completely in awe of them. A spring snowfall last year pretty much depleted us of flowers and here they were, this year, just beckoning at me.