I was walking back from the truck to the cottage tonight. The black lace of the trees was silhouetted against the sunset. The waxing moon was rising above the big pine trees. It was cool – definitely fall.
I have lived essentially alone now for almost two years. I say “essentially”, of course, because Kelsea lives with me about half the time. At first, it was a relief. Later, it felt scary sometimes. Still later, it felt boring sometimes. Now that I have been a bit busier and less depressed, it is a bit of a relief again.
But tonight, I remembered coming home late from work when I was in high school. My parents always left the lights on outside. I parked around the corner from the house, and walked to the front door. My parents’ house had a light at the top of the first set of outside stairs, and a light above the front door at the top of the second flight of stairs.
Seeing that warm, welcoming light let me feel loved, and made me know I was home. They never failed to turn the light on for me. Inside, there was always a living room light on, turned very low, so I could find my way around. Even though I had lived there my whole life and could probably have found my way around blindfolded.
Whenever Pat was late, I left the light on for him – except when I was angry because he said he’d be home hours earlier, or because he hadn’t called, or because I knew he’d been out doing something I didn’t want him to do. Leaving the light off was my own expression of my anger. I don’t think he ever picked up on that.
Do you remember the Motel 6 commercials a couple of decades ago?
Their spokesman was Tom Bodett, and I have no idea who Tom Bodett is or was, but I feel as if I should.
Their slogan was “We’ll leave the light on for you.” I always liked those commercials. They reminded me of my parents’ home and made me feel kind of warm and fuzzy inside.
At the cottage, if I turn the outside lights on, I also turn on the outside lights at the Big House, and so I don’t often turn them on, because I don’t want to disturb the Big House residents. But lately, I’ve taken to leaving a light on in my living room if I know I’ll be coming home after dark. With this single light, the cottage looks cozy, homey and welcoming when I approach from across the yard.
I know it’s not a responsible use of energy to leave a light on when I’m not home. But I have made an executive decision that, living alone, it’s a small price to pay for a little glow of comfort.