I don’t miss the television any more. We used to have cable, back when we lived in England. Before we left for the UK, my mother threw a fit, pointing out every possible negative she could manage. She does that. Always. “My friend lived in England, when her husband was stationed there. You’ll start to miss the modern conveniences.” I pushed back. I do that. Always. “Modern conveniences? Like what? We’re moving to England, not the African bush.”
Modern conveniences like cable television? I love it when she’s wrong.
We didn’t have cable before we left the U.S. I was content to watch Lost on Wednesday nights, to let my daughter watch nothing but Little Bill and Super Why on PBS. When we moved, my addiction to Lost was strong enough and the package deal that included our telephone and our internet was cheap enough that we had cable for the first and possibly for the last time in our married lives.
We had it, and we watched it. Unfailingly. Every evening, after the kids were in bed and it was just Eric and I, we watched hour after hour after hour of whatever was on. It wasn’t unusual for me to be up at two in the morning, watching whatever renovation program was on HGTV (in England, all of the eco-friendly, environmentally conscious HGTV programs are on in the middle of the night). We talked during the commercials; we talked about the program, the adverts, the celebrities. We were junkies.
When we moved back to the U.S., we didn’t get cable. Everything had already been converted to digital, and we didn’t have a converter box. We watched Lost online, we got kids’ videos from the library (including The Most Amazing Kids’ Show Ever, aka Charlie and Lola), and we got a Netflix subscription. Our habit went from a daily one to a weekly one. On most days, the kids don’t even ask to watch it. And on the rare occasion that they do ask, they actually sit and watch, a treat for them (and–I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it–for me). Our kids’ Christmas lists are littered with things like “blocks” and “more Legos” because they don’t see commercials.
Last night, after the kids were in bed, I poured glasses of wine for Eric and me. I brought them to the living room where he was working on a model, the stage at the theatre for his students’ final presentations. I lit the candles in the little Christmas houses that are sitting in the windowsill. I turned on the CD player, exchanged the kids’ version of the carols for the piano version. I crocheted, I let thoughts drift in and out, I vetted some of the thoughts with Eric, thoughts about the day, the upcoming holidays, the projects I was working on. There were moments of intense conversation, there were moments of nothing but the carols and the scratching of an Exacto knife slicing through foam board.
This safety, this comfort, this space that is allowed to exist around Eric and I, this comfortable silence that is amplified in the absence of a droning television. This is home.