Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Lonesome Town

Jackie K. Cooper


My wife and I have been married for over thirty years. During that time we have rarely been apart overnight. There have been some business trips here and there, but nothing of a long duration. Well, I do remember one time when I was in the Air Force that I was away from home for three weeks. That separation almost killed us. The truth is we don't like being separated, at least I know I don't.

Currently, my wife is in Florida, without me. She has gone to visit her parents, and my schedule was such that I couldn't go with her. She left on Sunday morning, and she will be back on Wednesday. As I write this, it is Tuesday - and I am miserable. The house just does not seem the same with her gone. It is too quiet, too empty, too spooky.

It is in instances like this I wish we had a pet. When we had a cat, it kept me company, good company, on those few occasions when Terry had to be away overnight. A cat is the perfect pet because it goes its own way and does its own thing, but checks in from time to time. But now we don't have a pet, and you can hear a pin drop in this house.

My wife is a little over five feet tall and doesn't weigh much at all, but still I feel safer when she is in the house with me. Last night I heard creaks and groans from every room in this place. I could have sworn I heard someone coming up the stairs. When it got quiet again, I went downstairs and re-checked the alarm system. Then I went back upstairs, closing and locking the door at the top of the stairs, as well as the doors to our bedroom.

Sunday afternoon I made my first run to the grocery store to stock up on all the comfort foods I could find. I brought home tomato juice, cheese tidbits, fudge ripple cookies, potato chips and dip, and diet cokes. I plopped down in front of my TV and watched every show I had Tivoed this season, but had not been able to watch. That included three hours of "Six Degrees" and three hours of "Brothers and Sisters." Monday night I watched four hours of "Nip/Tuck."

I have tried to get caught up on my reading, but I just can't concentrate. I find myself reading the same page over and over. Writing is even worse. I start a paragraph and when I read it, it doesn't even make any sense. I have started a new book, so I need to get my mind in gear.

The truth is, to quote a song, "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face." She truly does make my day begin. I know there are people who like separations in their marriage, and there are other couples who have to endure long periods of time apart because of their jobs. I just don't know how they do it. I like being married. I like being a couple. And when we are apart, I am a miserable person.

Tomorrow morning she will leave St. Petersburg and head for home. We will talk constantly while she is on the road (thank God for cell phones!), and I will be with her every mile of the way. When she gets back I will put away the "fatty" foods. I will begin to read and write again. Life will return to normal, and I will be a happy man.

But between now and then I am living in Lonesome Town, and I don't like it - not one bit.

***

Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012