Even though my husband and I keep talking about empty nest syndrome, our home isn't actually empty yet. My youngest son, With-a-Why, still lives here. (Long-time readers will be shocked to hear that he's twenty years old. Yes. Twenty!) Most days, his girlfriend Shy Smile hangs out here as well. Oh, and they have a friend, Curly Hair, who needed a place to stay for the summer so we invited her to move into one of our upstairs bedrooms.
And all my kids still live nearby. My oldest son Boy-in-Black, who comes here often to spend time with With-a-Why, set up a badminton court in the backyard: that's his obsession when he's not playing Ultimate Frisbee. My daughter comes over every evening to "train" with With-a-Why: he's teaching her to play Starcraft, a computer game that he's apparently quite good at. I usually see my son Shaggy Hair Boy on Tuesdays, since we split the veggies and fruit we get from our CSA farm. He's a ninth grade math teacher, who teaches at one school all day and then puts in a couple of hours every evening at another school; he won't be done for the summer for another week or two.
The house is less like an empty nest and more like a train station where people come and go: you never know who might be here. I no longer have a teenage boy band jamming in my living room —yes, we gave away the drum set — but we still have live music since With-a-Why is a classical pianist. He's also decided that he wants to learn how to tune a piano, which means that some days I come home to find the top of the piano off and his tools spread out on the floor. The piano tuning was going along quite well until he broke a string. Now he's learning how to replace a piano string.
One of With-a-Why's summer projects is to learn the cello. He figures that every composer needs to know a string instrument, and the cello is his favourite. So he rented a cello, and sits down every day to practice. Already he's beginning to play recognizable tunes.
I've always lived with live music in the house. My father plays jazz, and when I was growing up, he and his friends would often jam in the house. Once With-a-Why graduates from college and leaves home, I might have to start taking piano lessons again myself, just to have music in the house.