By the time my wife and kids return from their trip to New York City Wednesday night, I will have spent five days and five nights completely on my own. Well, I have had our small menagerie of pets to keep me company, which has been comforting, but that’s not quite the same as having my family at home with me. I have to admit: I’ve missed those weirdos.

Travis Naughton

This is officially the longest period of time we’ve ever been apart, and quite frankly, I don’t like it. Sure I’ve used this time to catch up on some writing projects that I’d been putting off for far too long, but to be honest, all this peace and quiet is actually kind of unsettling.

The Naughton house has always been a loud one. Because she was apparently born with a rare genetic condition in which she lacks what civilized people refer to as an “inside voice,” Bethany literally sets the tone for communication in our home. In order to be heard, anyone with something to say must shout as if a helicopter were landing in the kitchen. (And with Bethany’s lack of coordination and affinity for horseplay, it is a good idea to also duck as if a helicopter were landing in the kitchen.)

Just the other day when I was really starting to feel lonely, I made a terrible error in judgement. I watched the film “Castaway” starring Tom Hanks. A word of advice to you: when you find yourself all alone and missing your loved ones, especially your soul mate, do not under any circumstances watch a three-hour movie about a man stranded on a deserted island with only a volleyball to talk to who spends the next four years fighting off isolation-induced madness while desperately clinging to the hope that he may be reunited with his beloved wife someday.

Trust me. It’s a bad idea.

The tranquility that has settled upon my home over the last few days has given me a great opportunity to focus on my writing though. I managed to finally compile, format, edit, and upload to a self-publishing website over one hundred of my past columns to create a new book entitled 686 Words Per Week. Once I receive and approve my proof copy in a couple weeks, the book will be available for purchase (along with my previous two books) at I’ll also order some additional copies to have on hand for selling locally.

When I haven’t been busy writing and revising, I’ve been trying to keep up with my family’s adventures in the Big Apple. They got off to a less-than-ideal start when Bethany accidentally left our sons behind at LaGuardia airport after boarding a shuttle bus to the city. Luckily, she realized the oversight immediately, and through the miracle of cell phones she directed the boys to hop on the next shuttle and meet her at the next stop. Crisis averted.

Bethany’s sister Charla and her family met the Naughton clan in the city the next day and together, ten goofballs from the Midwest took on Manhattan. I imagine they were quite a sight to behold. And I’ll concede there is a part of me that wishes he could have been there with them. A very small part.

I am not a city boy, and the thought of navigating my way through the largest metropolitan area in the United States does not appeal to me in the slightest. The logistics of boarding busses and trains with children and suitcases in tow would give me an anxiety attack to end all anxiety attacks. The very idea of it causes my heart to race and skip beats even as I type these words. As much as I miss my family, I would have been miserable (and miserable to be around) on that trip.

Until I see them again I will curl up in my chair with Bethany’s old volleyball to keep me company and try to avoid watching any more movies about lonely men separated from their wives by space and time.

Now, where is that ball?