My boyfriend has been out of town since Thursday night for a long weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina. His improv group is performing in the January Comedy Festival this weekend. They’re having a blast, I’m sure. I’m so glad for him that he’s been able to escape town to a warmer climate, hang out with some great friends and spend three days straight partying and laughing.
And so, here I am. In our little apartment doing the alone thang for a few days. He encouraged (begged) me to reach out to some friends to have sleepovers or get-togethers this weekend and I love my friends and would certainly enjoy such activities. But I’m also enjoying the hell out of this total peace and quiet. I’ll see friends tonight at the Harvard Sailing Team show. Maybe I’ll even have a drink with them afterward, or maybe not. Regardless, the evening will be fun and great and we’ll laugh, like always. And then I’ll probably retreat back here to my little haven, where the cats are adorable and the TV’s always tuned to TLC.
This peace and quiet has been something I’ve needed for quite some time now. I’m incredibly content with my day to day life lately, don’t get me wrong. There’s precious little I could want or need beyond what I’ve been blessed with lately. Still, to have several days of uninterrupted personal time is always welcome in my world.
I was an only child, people. Not everyone knows what that’s like. And I’m sure it’s not the same for every only child. For me, I had a vibrant alone-life as a kid. I talked to myself and sang to myself and had a lot goin’ on in my brain all the time. I took good care of my toys and couldn’t believe my eyes when I’d go over to my cousins’ house (four sisters) and their Christmas gifts were all mixed together, strewn about the house and some already had limbs missing (the toys, not the sisters). Sure, my Christmas gifts got strewn about the house too, but I’d sooner have locked myself, the toys and a kitchen knife in the closet before I’d let someone else mess them up.
I’m still not AMAZING at sharing. Not out of selfishness – I love to share anything I have with anyone who wants it – but just due to a lack of awareness. I’ll put the milk away without offering Kevin some for his coffee. He can’t understand why I wouldn’t think of him. I DO think of him! I just forget! I grew up alone for 18 years! I’m still adjusting to there being someone else’s cup to pour milk into!
I spent plenty of time with friends, family and loved ones as a kid. I also spent plenty of time alone. Making up games, inventing rituals. I remember vividly asking my mom one afternoon what the heck I was supposed to do all day long by myself. And she said, “Use your imagination!” And I said, “My imagination’s all used up.” It wasn’t, of course. But it felt that way sometimes.
Still, don’t feel bad for the only child. They adjust – happily – to being solitary, independent individuals. I LOVE being alone now. I’ve said it a million times on this blog. I love to be around people. I’m also quite, quite content being by myself.
In December, out of necessity and thanks to the good will of my dear friends, this apartment was filled with people every day of the week. Amazingly generous people who helped me grow my small business out of the kindness of their hearts. And it was wonderful. It was also, at times, a little stressful to have the place filled with so many humans, to have to be social for so many hours each day. I loved it and I was grateful for it and I was tired from it. (Oh and also I was tired from baking a bazillion red velvet cakes. Oh yeah.)
When we went to the ‘burbs in Illinois for Christmas, I was thrilled to be around family and old friends. It was also a bit exhausting to be so social for so many days in a row. Kevin and I had several days at the end of the trip that we spent relatively alone, hanging out at my parents’ house, relaxing, eating, driving around. It was peaceful and quiet and we were lucky to have that time. (Thanks, Mom!) But I wasn’t quite alone. I haven’t gotten to the point in my relationship (in fact, I hope to never get to this point) where I consider Kev and I to be the same person. So as peaceful as it was, I still wasn’t totally by myself.
And now I finally have this solitary time, which my loving boyfriend indirectly gifts to me every once in a while when he takes road trips to different comedy festivals on the Eastern seaboard with his improv groups. If our relationship could work this way for the rest of time, I would be thrilled. Many days in a row of being together, and then, every once in a while, a few days of being apart. In these most recent instances, he gets to go off and eat, drink and be merry with a big group of hilarious friends. And I get to sit quietly on my couch sipping coffee and writing. AHHHHHHHHHHHH! What more could I ask for?!
Being in a full-time, live-in relationship is an adjustment for an only child. Sure, I’ve had roommates, but it’s not the same. Living with your significant other, and this last year and a half is the first time I’ve ever done so, implies a near-constant With-Other-ness. And that’s okay. I hope to have children and a family and I imagine much of my life going forward will be spent With Others. It’s probably better for the person who’s drawn to being by themselves a lot to have a big family, otherwise we might become hermits.
But for now, I’m still adjusting to living with another constantly. I love living with him and I love him. And Kevin and I tend to have a good deal of independence in our relationship. But I’m still adjusting to having to think about putting milk in someone else’s coffee, to letting go of control over the TV remote (something the Only Child Brain almost can’t even comprehend), to turning my radio down because someone else hates the show I’m listening to. I’m still adjusting to sharing the bed, coordinating shower time, accepting input on the decor and the grocery list. I’m still adjusting to the increase in conversation. More talking. There’s more talking now. “Honey. Please. Shush,” I say sometimes. The poor guy. He’s really good about understanding, though, when I just need to be left alone. Sometimes he will even say, without me prompting him, “You want me to shut up now.” I just smile and blow him a smooch.
Besides offering me some social rest, the alone time I’m getting this weekend also gives me the space to fully indulge in the stuff I love to do, without interruption. I’m on Day 7 of my 30-Day Yoga Challenge and it’s still really lovely. I’m sore and I can’t seem to get un-sore, but I’m learning a ton about myself and I feel physically and mentally quite strong and balanced. And I almost feel like I’m on a little Monk-like Yoga Retreat since so much of my experience for the last two days has been couched in silence and solitude. I might go crazy if this quietness were to last the full 30 days of the challenge (or would I?) but to have experienced this simplicity for even a portion of these 30 days has been really nice.
Of course, there are the cats. I come home to them each night and I chirp happily to them, while they mew back at me, about my day and what we will do with ourselves this evening. They “talk” to me and cuddle with me and sleep curled up next to me. So I’m not really, truly alone. I am so lucky to have them, these little beings. They are filled with such personality and expression and curiosity. They’re also incredibly independent creatures. Perhaps that is why I relate to them.
So, in conclusion, (Remember in 5th grade when every essay you wrote had to end with In Conclusion?) I’m having a lovely weekend. I’m enjoying my yoga (even though my thighs seem to have left my body and replaced themselves with two immovable steel beams), I’m enjoying my cats, I’m enjoying the simple meals-for-one I’m preparing for myself, I’m not making enough coffee every morning because I underestimate how much I can drink by myself, and I’m happy.
Oh, and did I mention (I didn’t) that I happen to be reading Eat Pray Love right now? This was not an intentional choice – that I would read this spiritual book at the same time I’d be embarking upon my Yoga Challenge and at the same time I’d be having a Me Weekend. I borrowed a copy from my good friend Rebecca (who just moved to LA! waaaah!!!) just before she left town last weekend. And after trying my darnedest to get through Julie & Julia (which, I’m sorry, I just can’t get through – I really disliked it…), I finally gave up one night and cracked open Eat Pray Love and, of course, haven’t put it down since. Reading that book while going on this little spiritual, independent journey of my own is almost like wearing the T-Shirt to the concert. That’s okay. I can be that guy.