Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Solitude


20+ miles on this road each way, tons of time to think


As has become habit since beginning this blog, I used my weekly drive for groceries to think about what I wanted to write about. Driving along, my mind raced ahead to lunch. When I drive over to the large town nearby I often go to lunch at a local coffee shop, one that I call my favorite place in the world to my kids. It isn’t anything magical, really, it is just a comfortable place, good food and drinks, and some spot I can read and write.

Lunch at Cafe Kopi = Heaven on Earth
As I thought about lunch and how much I was looking forward to it, my slice of life for the week popped into my head. I was looking forward to lunch so much because I get to be alone. I love being by myself. I never knew that others didn’t enjoy it until I was an adult and began talking to my friends. Some of them are similar to me but many avoid solitude. I wonder why that is.

I’ve always preferred it. When I was a kid I lived in my head. My imagination was pretty vivid. I often thought of the characters I read as my friends. When I was younger I lived in the country. I remember thinking the woods behind my house or the creek at the end of the road were inhabited by magical creatures. My sister and brother could tag along with me, but most of my story remained mine.

As I got older I had lots of friends but was always happiest when I could curl up in my room and read. My closest friends were the ones that would happily read as well. I participated in sports but my favorites were running and swimming, when I could depend on myself.

I look forward to attending conferences but, as many of my colleagues know, I prefer to have my own room. My “routines” don’t have to change; I can still enjoy the quiet. (Although NCTE was amazing because I got to have the best of both worlds, my own room but share a part of a suite with friends! If only all travel could be like that.) My friends tease me that I am becoming eccentric but I think I have just figured out how I function best.

I thrive in the quiet. I love strolling down the streets of Chicago on my own. Driving down a highway and finding my way somewhere. Browsing bookstores, eating in coffee shops, hanging out in a hammock. I think this is why I’ve taken to yoga in the last decade, more time to spend in my head.

I do find if I spend too much time by myself, I begin to go a bit crazy overanalyzing myself. But, as I found after having my first child, having no time for introspection is no good either. Thus, like everything in life, moderation is the key. For me my perfect balance has more solitude than most. But in my thirty-seventh, almost thirty-eighth, year I’ve learned to embrace it. I need solitude to be myself and I’m ok with that. 



 
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