I recently returned from a conference flying home on a "red eye" flight arriving home early in the morning. These flights are well named. You never know how much sleep you'll get as you
are jetted across the country forced into an unnatural position that prevents
real sleep with God knows how many other interruptions that steal those
precious minutes of rest you so desperately want. For the main flight on
this particular journey I was not to be disappointed. A young family
directly behind me had their two year old son who apparently had never heard
the word "no" and had the energy to bounce around, kick my seat, yell,
cry and screech for four and a half hours of the five hour flight. OK, so
I had a half hour of peace and quiet, yet by this point I was so on edge I
couldn't sleep anticipating the next assault to my aching head. After
landing I had thirty minutes until my next flight which was an hour in length
so I could drive a half hour to home and to bed in the quiet of the
morning. No, wait, I had e-mail to answer, a conference call and
about six hours worth of work before I could spend some quality time with my
very own pillow.

OK, so we all have those days and somehow make it through, so no one needs to
feel sorry for me. My therapy is running. After finishing up my
work and before closing my eyes for the first sleep I'll have had in about
thirty-odd hours I loosened up the mental cobwebs with a brief run. So,
about two hours later I got up feeling what? Refreshed? No, more
like someone was playing basket ball in my head, yet knew if I stayed in bed
any longer I wouldn't sleep at night and got up to get busy on at least one
project calling me to my desk.

By this time the sounds in our house had changed. Besides the clicking of
the keys as I wrestle out a letter I heard Alice working in the kitchen
preparing dinner. Rachel who happened to grace our presence during a
school break was actually home between visiting her friends, yet she was soon
grabbing car keys to head to her job. (I guess that's as much as I should
expect from a twenty-something college kid, so I'll leave it at that. I
remember being that age, yet on this day that memory was dim.) Matthew
needed a book, his laptop or a pencil, so he called for a hand. Patrick
finished his homework and was scratching through the fifty-five gallon drum of
Legos he collected to rebuild a model. Nothing unusual.

These are the sounds of our home in the early afternoon. I travel a bit
and work a lot, so when I'm home I savor these moments. It's such a
contrast to white noise of jet engines broken up by an inconsolably screaming
child. I grew up in a large family and can usually tune out distractions,
but there are times it means more to listen. Later that afternoon Patrick
positioned himself in front of the keyboard he inherited from my father and to
play for a while. His repertoire ranges from Scott Joplin rags to Vanessa
Carlton's 1000 miles and plays well. Matthew talked about things
happening at school. The boys' aid arrived to help them shower and Alice
kept me up to speed with the news of how she was beating another opponent at
Scrabble.

I see the phrase "live simply" which has been hijacked by advertisers
keen to appeal to current trends altering the meaning. I also have
adopted my own meaning for this and when I'm home it applies to listening to
the sounds of my family.

Jim Croce sang about having "Time in a bottle". I just hope to
keep these memories.

Brian Denger

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