An Empty Apartment, A Haunted Body, and A Crowded House

Summer Block
4 min readJun 30, 2021

The very first thing I did when I found out I was pregnant with Thomas was google “triple bunk beds.” I did this even before I went downstairs to tell Zac, who was in the kitchen making pancakes for the four children we already had. This is what is referred to as the presumptive close: yes, I’m pregnant again, and Wayfair has a triple bunk bed in stock now, free shipping, good reviews, only $539.

Our new house is 1504 square feet, or as I used to say, 250 square feet per person. Now that Thomas is here, we’re down to 214 square feet each, or about the size of a generous parking space (think Costco, not Trader Joe’s). I knew we had room in our lives and hearts for another person, but I wasn’t sure we had room in our rooms. (Thank god we have high ceilings.)

Right now Beatrice, Arthur, and William are on a trip to Alaska with their dad for a month, leaving just Margaret, Thomas, Zac, and me in the house with 642 square feet to spare. You might think the house would feel more spacious with the older kids away, but in fact, it feels exactly the same: their presence is so large and lasting, you feel it everywhere.

I grew up in a series of small homes, where my parents, my sister, and I spent a lot of time together in close spaces. I did my homework on the same kitchen table where my mom spread out her sewing patterns, read Seventeen next to my dad dozing under a library book, later I would log onto AOL in the living room while my parents watched TV. My younger sister and I shared a bedroom throughout my childhood, and if I wanted my own room, it was only because her babyish decor ruined the sophisticated teen bedroom design I’d seen in magazines. That is, I wouldn’t have minded her living with me, so long as she agreed to matching lavender pillow shams. The only time I remember wanting privacy was when I was on the phone, when I’d drag the corded phone through the entire apartment, turning the hallway into a low-budget version of Entrapment.

And yet, all that time together only made us all want more time together. I was not always happy — I have one distinct memory from sixth or seventh grade of dragging our cat into the bathroom in a huff, locking the door and declaring that no one in the whole family cared about me EXCEPT THIS CAT. But we only had one bathroom, so that only lasted so long. But even when I was mad, I was lonely, too. I might carve out a little personal space for myself on the balcony or in the bathtub, but…

Summer Block

Writer for Catapult, Longreads, The Awl, The Toast, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and so on. Owner of After-Party Taxidermy. Working on a book about Halloween.