on being alone

12 Mar

It is the eve of spring break and I am about to be alone in my home for ten days.  I have watchdogs, though, in case you are the nefarious type, as well as the direct line to the police detective on call, so don’t get any big ideas.  I am preparing to attempt the never-before-attempted-feat of surviving for a week and a half without even thinking about anyone else.  I am determined to enjoy it, because although I know it will present some challenges – conversation, anyone? – it is a very rare occurrence, and I need the time.  To get my thoughts straight, my house in order (literal and figurative), and the fish tank cleaned. 

I had a great walk with a good friend a few weeks ago.  She was separated from her husband when we really got to know each other and much of what I know of the glamorous side of single-mothering, I learned from her.  She has wonderful kids who are talented and well-adjusted and attractive and even approaching independence.  She was a great parent to them during some unspeakably hard times.  Friendship through “unspeakable hard times” is the bond we share.  And a love of pretty things.
She has since remarried. To the nicest man on the planet. After our chat the other day, I realized how different her life is from mine now.  She isn’t as readily available for leisurely glasses of wine while her children entertain mine.  She always has plans with her sweet husband, or at least consults with him and checks his schedule, and often they are traveling together.  Where once our paths joined, now she is busy so much of the time, and I miss her.  
I also realized that while I am indescribably busy so often, my free time, when my children are with their father, is entirely my own.  I don’t have to cook.  Or run errands for anyone besides me.  I can let that those clothes stay at the cleaners for a month if I want to.  Nobody cares but me.  (And you all know that I don’t get too worked up about this sort of thing.)  I don’t have to go on anyone else’s business trips to keep him company.  I don’t have to bring things to his office because he left something important at home.  Pick up anyone else’s prescription or see movies I don’t wish to see.
But I actually believe that this sort of interdependence and doing things for and with your husband is good and healthy and right.  It’s not just good for HIM, it’s good for YOU.  It is hard to live with someone else and it is a constant struggle to balance the self with the beloved (or as beloved as he was when you married him).  Accommodating and giving is good for you.  Being married, if you are doing it right, is a constant lesson in unselfishness.  On the other hand, it is important to be somewhat independent and capable of indulging your own interests and nurturing your own self so you don’t become lost in the needs and absorbed into the life of someone else.  It’s a tricky balance.  I clearly don’t know exactly how to do it – I’m like a critic who describes a tightrope walker’s performance – I can observe it and study it and describe it, but Lord knows I have never exhibited a proficiency at it.  Aptitude, yes.  Proficiency, no.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever remarry.  If I do, I will probably suggest that we buy a duplex together.  He can live on one side and I on the other.  Unless he is the wrong kind of person to marry, I am pretty sure that it will mark the end of my having large blocks of free time that I have grown fiercely possessive of.  It’s possible that I would be so busy conversing or watching television series that I might never read another book and btc would be a distant memory, just a little something I used to do to fill the time.


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