The lights are on but no one’s home

I am a big fan of historical and period fiction. While this means I can run categories of European royal titles, on “Jeopardy,” it also has given me a good grasp of their etiquette too.

What it means is this: If I don’t feel well, I am not “At Home.”

A century ago and well before that, ladies and gentlemen of leisure could choose to not be at home. Their servants would accept flowers, gifts, cards and invitations but allow no visitors. The maids and butlers were the bodyguards of their day, protecting their people from unwanted intrusions.

Unless you count my barking dogs, I don’t have servants*, but this small detail does not stop me.

My car may be in the driveway, you may be able to hear music coming from my house, but knock on my door and there will be no answer but barking. Call my phone, get voicemail. Send an e-mail, no reply.

I am taking the day off from humanity. I turn off all ringers, computers, cell phones, tablets — anything that will disturb me.

There are days when I simply cannot deal with anything. I don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, hear any news, read anything current.

I am guilty of peeking through curtains to see who is standing on my porch, but I don’t answer the door. They can leave a note.

There is nothing wrong with this. We all have days when we simply cannot cope with the world and we are entitled to absent ourselves from it for a day. Or two. Or five.

When we have a better grasp on things, we can return the calls, the e-mails. A simple explanation of, “I wasn’t feeling well” should be enough for anyone who pries.

I think for those of us with all forms or arthritis, auto-immune diseases and other syndromes, not being “at home” is an idea whose time has come.

In these times of being expected to be available 24/7, sometimes it simply is not possible.

I raise the drawbridge to my castle on a regular basis and these days I don’t need a really good reason. It can be the obvious: I feel like hell, or I am exhausted. It can be depression, or just that my psyche cannot handle one more bit of bad news. On the other side, maybe I want to play with my dogs, or feed the birds and watch them.

The first few times you let people stand at the door and knock, you will be tempted to answer it because that response has been pounded into each of us. Guess what? You can ignore it. Caller ID makes it simple not to answer the phone. The harder thing is to not listen to the messages. Checking out of e-mail and Facebook is becoming almost impossible for some, but do it. It’s good for you.

Take those days of solitude to take care of yourself. Stay in bed all day with some nice scented candles lit to set a mood. Pull out the books you’ve promised yourself you would read, and do it.

Fix yourself your favorite foods, watch your favorite movies. Baby yourself. You deserve it. I know this, because I know I certainly do.

So, roll up the welcome mat. Turn off the porch light. Take some time to heal your frazzled self inside the safest place you know: your home.

You’ll feel better for it.

*Since I don’t have children, it’s easier for me to institute the “not at home” policy at my house. For those of you with children, a little instruction and you may have your own servant/bodyguards who will greet visitors and help them without getting you involved. They also can take phone messages and keep them for you when you feel like dealing with them. They may enjoy feeling like they have a more active part in help you recharge.

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