Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All Alone - And Loving It

I have arrived at a conclusion today.  I have altered my perspective and I'm wondering how it will all play out.  It's not that I received any new information, nor did I experience a major life changing event.  I was driving north and south on local streets, making all the lights and thinking deep thoughts as the miles flew by.  I was alone with my parcels and my dry cleaning and the novel I borrowed in Phoenix rattling around on the front seat, where G'ma should have been sitting if she were ever in the mood to keep me company as I did my errands.  NPR was blathering on about itself, and I wasn't in the mood for their self-indulgent crap, so I turned off the radio, rolled down the windows, opened the sun-roof and breathed deep.

I was alone.  All by myself.  Listening to no one.  Unbothered by anyone.  It was heaven.

My thoughts went to the Cuters (of course) and the Big Cuter's telling me last week that he had not left his apartment for an entire day.  His apartment is one room.  Granted, he has a balcony and a fabulous view

Yes, that's the Golden Gate Bridge in the top left corner, peeking over the top of the white building

but for crying out loud he was in one room for 24 hours and didn't lose his mind.  

Every once in a while I am reminded that my children are their own selves and not my personal creation.  What works for them may not work for me.  I've come to accept that fact.  What I hadn't accepted was that it was okay.  I just knew my way was the right way and their way was somewhat lacking in perfection.

So, upon hearing that he had not ventured further than his closet, that he had not checked to see whether the brownies I sent to him had been delivered to his mailbox in the lobby 26 floors below, when I realized that he had not set eyes on another human being for an entire day, I was flummoxed.  Unless I am sick, broken, bloody but unbowed, I need to get out and about.  The thought that he could have stayed put and stayed happy was difficult for me to grasp, so I immediately went to my worry place -- was he healthy? happy? bored? lonesome?

No, no, no, no... he was ecstatic.  He considered it a personal milestone.  When I checked with him to be sure I could use his anecdote in this post, he told me that I could upgrade him from one day to an entire weekend.  From Friday afternoon until Monday morning he was home, creating outlines for his 5-finals-in-11-days and being disgusted by the general state of professional football.  I refuse to grant him this bonus because he admitted to leaving his box when he went to the trash room..... even if he didn't see another human he was still outside his personal space..... but you get the general idea.  He thinks it's wonderful and I can't get a grip on it.  

The Little Cuter loves her days curled up with cheese and soft blankets and trashy tivo-ed television.  She can lie on her couch for hours.  Napping occurs with regularity.  She isn't anything but content.  I can read a book for hours, but I also need a change of venue every once in a while.  I might move from Douglas to the old leather arm-chair-and-ottoman and then out to the backyard for some quality time on the lounge chair in the sun.  I couldn't sit all morning and all afternoon and through dinner.  Yet, she can.

TBG likes his alone time, too.  He's happy watching talking heads (current affairs, the markets, sports, MSNBC and Fox and CNBC and CNN and ESPN2HD and lots of other initials all of which combine to make him the independent thinker that he is) and thinking deep thoughts.  He doesn't miss interacting with other humans; he's happy to seek them out when he wants to, but mostly he's happy with his own self.

And that brings me back to G'ma, the only person over whom I might be able to exert some small measure of control.  She gleefully ignores the pleas of the caregivers to join them at the music or the brain games or the little horses visit.  She's happy to lie on her couch, under her throw rug from Horace Mann, watching Law'n or TMC or The Weather Channel.  She'll do her word puzzles and read and re-read her postcards and she's a happy girl.  I've written before of my abortive efforts to get her to engage with the world around her, but those are all in the past.  It took me a while, but I was finally able to get to the place where she was allowed to feel okay about doing nothing.  

Actually, I got to the place where I realized that she was allowed to decided to do nothing and I was the one who was allowed to feel okay about it.  She was never in doubt.  Not once.  "I like myself!" is her standard reply when asked if she's okay being alone.

And so, back to the conclusion I have reached.  Driving alone, enjoying the air and the sun and my own thoughts, I realized that I was going where I wanted when I wanted without regard to anyone or anything else.  I wanted a burrito and I'd already passed the restaurant so I turned around and retraced my steps - 4 miles of them - and ate and read my novel and drove on to do more errands and all the while I was thinking about my kids and my husband and my mother and how a day alone, not moving outside your home, must make them as happy as this day was making me.

How could this be?  I do not know.  But I know it with a certainty that was missing before today at about 3pm.  I have to be okay with it for them - they are 4 peas in a pod and I, perhaps, am the outlier here.  I am giving up the space in my brain reserved for insuring that those most immediately in my life are having a good time.  From now on, it's up to them.  I'm not worrying about that any more.  

This is an unusual place for me.  I kinda sorta like it.


  1. We lived in a one-room studio apartment 17 floors above the Embarcadero in San Francisco for 15 months. I could sit for hours and watch the people on the streets, coming and going, so I completely understand your son's delight in doing some similar. I also loved walking the streets of San Francisco and could do that for hours on end, too. Guess I'm a combination girl--solitude some days, people-filled the next.


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