« Brrrr... | Main | Circa 1980 »

Thursday, 01 July 2010

Lighted Windows

By Lyn Burnstine of The Lynamber Times

As far back as I can remember, I've felt drawn in by the cozy look of a house by the side of the road ablaze with inside lights shining through the windows. “The interiors of perfect security, kitchens full of a just and lasting peace,” as E. B. White, the ultimate essayist, writes.

These houses with their welcoming beacons of light are symbol and metaphor for me of the perfect family scene; I imagine children, sweet-smelling and rosy from their baths, bundled into their flannel pajamas made toasty warm by the coal stove or the dryer.

I picture the parents - sweet, calm, contented, free from care and tension - maybe having milk and cookies with the children before bedtime. It's my version of TV’s myth of the nuclear family.

And yet, it's not a myth. For me, it's a memory. I've been there. I’ve been the child and I’ve been the parent in those tableaux of domestic serenity. And I've also been there when the serenity was gone. Perhaps that's why, as I drive at dusk past those houses that painfully remind, I feel so drawn to them - yearning toward what they represent and what I've lost.

My days are full, creative, wonderfully fulfilling and challenging - rich with the solitude I've learned to love and crave, and blessed with almost too many friends. My nights are full and satisfying with lots of music, photography, socializing, good food, time to read and write at leisure.

It's only during that twilight hour, when the lights go on in the houses and all the chickens go home to roost, that I feel - just for a moment - a stab to the heart in going home to an empty apartment.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Beautiful! Beautiful! This is one of my very favorite stories that you have written.

Lyn, I agree with Mary. Your beautiful story brought back memories of family times past and present (thank God!). Add to your description the smell of supper cooking and I'm in major nostalgia mode.

I, too, have learned to enjoy solitude, but there are times when I miss the warmth of family.

Nostalgia is a more powerful emotion as I get older. You have described it so well.

Thank you, everyone. I must say those moments happen less and less over time.
The flip side: the many times I think "Thank goodness, I don't have to go home and cook a big dinner!"


I'm late arriving here today but happy I had time to read your story.

It was one of the best descriptions I have ever read. It's hard to explain exactly what you mean by a "Feeling" but you have done a wonderful job of making us understand what the warm glow of the lights of home mean to you.

What Norman Rockwell did with paint is what you did with words. What a heart-warming glimpse of contentment. Bravo!

Lovely comments. Thank you, Nancy--and Peri, you have no idea how apropos yours was. In a few months, my daughter and hubby expect to move two blocks away from Rockwell's famous Main Street scene, which is the closest any of my kids have lived to me in over 20 years. With luck, I'll join them in my own apartment there in a few short years, near 8 family members!

What a pleasure reading this, Lyn! It's amazing how powerful an effect lights can have. Like many things, it's what you bring to something that determines what you receive in return. I can vouch for the unreality of the happy, laughing and loving family gathered around the table at night over a sumptuous meal. But sometimes unreality beats reality.

"And even though they weren't that good, I miss the good old days." from I Like to Sing Those Gospel Songs.

I don't usually write or even read comments, but your writing is so good; your use of words in just the right way. I'm so impressed and also spurned on to try to do better with my own silly essays.

Thanks, Jerry & Johna, I’m glad I remembered to look again today at comments and found yours. Liked the quote from your book, Jerry. Johna, we’ve learned a lot about China and about living in two countries from your not-silly essays. Keep up the good work.

The comments to this entry are closed.