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#285  Tapes delayed

#285 Tapes delayed

For my on-going 500 Things Project, I am getting rid of one thing every day for 500 days, until my son leaves for college this August.
Today #285: Harry Potter 5 on audiotapes

Proust had the smell of madeleines; I have the sound of Jim Dale’s voice.

Today is a milestone, and it has nothing to do with the impending blizzard. My husband and I have 200 days left of this version of Life with the Self-Contained Unit.

It is conventional wisdom isn’t it, that once you go off to college, home is never quite the same. Where is Home? Is it the place your parents live, where you slept and ate, played and dreamed, loved and cried until you left one wrenching August day? Or is it the place you went to? The new place where you slept and ate, played and dreamed, loved and cried and maybe studied a little, with hundreds of other scared kids some of whom became your new tribe, your new family, in your new home.

Two hundred days.

That’s my obvious milestone. Another one arrived this morning as well. After 455 days, we took our lives off pause.

This morning, my husband Paul went out the door to a job. It happens every day in other houses– though not nearly enough houses— but it hadn’t happened in our house for 455 days. Four hundred fifty-five days ago, Paul came home from work early; came into our kitchen while I was having lunch, doing some paper work and listening to the soundtrack of our lives, the Harry Potter books-on-tape.

It was "Order of the Phoenix," though not my favorite, still an important part of the story. Hearing our garage door open so early, I immediately knew something was wrong. Sickness leapt to mind first, but somehow I knew: No, not sickness. I pressed the pause button on the tape player.

Our lives have been on pause for almost 15 months. Of course, even in unemployment, Life goes on. We slept, ate, played, dreamed, loved and cried, more and less, but blessedly– though for not nearly enough people– still in the same house.

And it was in this same house, the same kitchen, where this morning I recreated the beginning of the pause, so that I could literally experience taking our Life off of pause. After Paul drove off, after the garage door shut and the house was very quiet, I replaced the tape, left exactly where I had paused it 15 months ago, and let Jim Dale complete his sentence:

“The scrupulously clean kitchen had an oddly unreal glitter after the darkness outside.”

Sometimes, closure is real.

For more about my downsizing project, please visit

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