I was only slightly disappointed that I couldn’t go with those heading off to the Whites to hike above tree line; I’m nursing a sprained ankle that’s healing. But I was relieved, too. Even though I work alone all day, I looked forward to finding my own rhythm after so many weeks of adjusting to others’.
I used to live alone.
I lived alone in my twenties, and I liked it most of the time. I spent a summer in a stone cottage high on a moor in Northumberland, England, reading nineteenth century novels and writing. I spent another summer living in a Parisian garret while studying French at the Sorbonne. I lived alone on the Upper West Side of Manhattan while I attended graduate school at Columbia. And I lived alone when I first moved to Vermont for the summer to write.
Sometimes, though, I was lonely. Desperately so.
Then I met Tim.
Even though I made a room of my own a non-negotiable condition of cohabitation and then marriage, and even though I spend most of each work day alone in that room, being alone for part of the day is not the same as living alone. And here I was, home alone and out of practice.
Before the hikers packed up their gear and headed out, I anticipated my alone time as a chance to reset: a chance to find my own rhythm, from when to wake, what to eat, and how to spend my time between words.
I had two deadlines to meet, but otherwise vast empty hours to do as I pleased.
- I wandered outside, weeded a flower bed, harvested sugar snap peas and picked kale for my lunch salad.
- I cleaned the kitchen and swept the floor.
- I walked to the Post Office, and was struck by the beauty of this perfect summer day.
- I moved the meat birds to new pasture after corralling three escapees back into their pen.
- I read the news, answered emails, vetoed all the projects that involved climbing into the car.
- I may not have known exactly what it is I wanted to do, but I knew for certain I wanted to stay home.
I was surprised that it took me so long to settle. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so thoroughly on my own, even for such a relatively short time. I decided that this would be the subject of this week’s post.
This morning, after chores, I came right to work with good concentration, revised a radio commentary and wrote this. As I dated the file, I saw that today’s my wedding anniversary.
I’ve lived more than half my life with Tim.
I may be home alone for a couple of days, and I may spend most of my work days alone, but I don’t live alone. I live in a marriage where love is infinite and generosity is the norm.