Things were the same except substantially different

In our house every night Mom would cook and you'd smell the onions sautéing in olive oil and that's when Dad would come down the stairs. He'd wear his around-the-house uniform of turtleneck, funny blue sweater vest, black sweatpants, socks pulled up high, and these brown loafers. So he'd pad down the stairs in these loafers, sometimes farting a little with each step. Like each step would goose out a little more of the fart until it was all out.

And then he'd sort of hop down from the last step into the kitchen, and he'd throw his arms up and belt out in his terrible flat singing voice, 

“THERE he is! Mis-ter Ah-MER-ica!”

That's right, the man sang "Mr. America," which isn't even a song, to announce his arrival in the kitchen every evening.

And so after he was gone everything was pretty much the same, except he just didn't come down the stairs and he didn't announce his arrival.

  Empty staircase with creepy shadows

Empty staircase with creepy shadows

Otherwise things were the same.

For instance up in his office all of his papers were laid out, waiting on his return. And in the bathroom he kept a pile of his tennis clothes on a little stool and it was still there, folded and tidy. And on his dresser his watch sat on a square of white handkerchief.

All of it was the same, like as if he would come back soon.