December 15, 2009


One of the things about being an only child is that I’m used to being on my own (especially as an only child who’s been single all her life, more or less). I experience solitude most of the time that I’m not at the office. It’s just who I am and I absolutely don’t mind it.

As today has worn on, I’ve realized that there are two kinds of solitude—happenstance and self-imposed. I suffer from the self-imposed. Not suffer, rather, experience, because I’ve chosen it. Suffer implies that it’s thrust upon you. I embrace it. Oh, I can put on the social butterfly face if I must, if I’m well-rested, have psyched myself up, and perhaps, just perhaps, have had a tasty beverage or two.

(That’s what I like about writing these blog entries— suffering? tasty beverage? Where did that come from? This is supposed to be about being a loner and sitting next to big water.)

I tried having roommates way back when. The three of us had rent payment issues. We had “I thought I didn’t have to share a bedroom” issues. I swore I’d never have another roommate until I was, you know, married. I’ll be living by myself forever, it seems.

Right, then.

When I’m in the mood for meta-solitude, I seek out water. 

It can be as simple as small running water, such as a faucet, my morning shower, a public fountain. There’s something about that trickling sound, that dance of a stream of water small or large, the feel of it beating against your chest in the shower, the warmth of it flowing over your fingers, the sound of it dancing through the leaves of the trees outside your open window in the summer.

Big water is even better. I used to hang out on the shore of Lake Superior at a friend’s place. You get lost in the lack of horizon. You get mesmerized by the sound. One of the best times of my life was singing Del Amitri songs to myself out loud on the shore of the Firth of Forth in North Berwick. Scottish in Scotland. It was late in the evening, late in June, which meant that there was ample lightness still at 11 p.m. It was just about perfect. It was just about opposite of current conditions.

Boats are good, too. I tend to get seasick on the larger ones, such as ferries going between, say, Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly. But conceptually, I love boats and being on the water and will always say yes. I’ve floated up the Thames to Greenwich; I think it would be very satisfactory to go on a longboat in the the other direction.

Just this morning, I engaged in solitude with my sleeping bag winter coat. When I got on the train, I didn’t push back my hood to embrace my environment. I left my parka snorkel in place and enjoyed being antisocial and diddling on my iPhone. 

Antisocial. There’s a whole other topic.


Postscript: I was going to end with the above, but in rereading I realized that I didn’t even mention how much I love sitting on my front step in the summer. I like it when I’ve walked or biked home and been inside to change into something cooler and go back outside, and then am finally still, just enjoying breathing the air, listening to the birds, squirrels and maybe the neighborhood people sounds, and maybe sipping on a tasty beverage.

And don’t even get me started on how much I love roadtripping by myself (apparently you didn’t). I get into tiffs with bowling friends because I refuse to carpool with them to Chicago for our annual tournament. I just love driving alone, staying off the interstates, taking instead U.S. and state highways, going more slowly and passing through every small town. That is so incredibly relaxing to me, a little holiday inside my car for eight hours.

Water and driving, for the win.

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