This past Saturday morning I woke up early for my longest workout of the week: pecs, shoulders, biceps and triceps and an hour of Body Step. I hate hate hate the gym (it’s a sadistic series of tortures that play on our guilt and vanity), but it must be done, alternate choices being what they are.
I then took myself out for a Starbucks, and sat for a while as I perused last week’s New Yorker and listened to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR. Then I drove to my ‘country’ house (just 15 miles from my downtown Austin loft) and sat in the sun, in my hammock next to the pond, reading and listening to some Keb Mo and Elvis, while the sun warmed me.
Around 4 I drove over to Barnes and Noble to indulge one of my passions: perusing bookstores for interesting titles. I bought a few: Joyce Carol Oates‘ short story collection from 1966 (who knew?), Oliver Saks’ “This is your brain on music” (anything by Saks is brain candy), Thomas Frank’s ‘The Wrecking Crew‘ (I heard him discuss his fascinating views on government last week on Bill Moyers), and an interesting-seeming book called “Your Inner Fish: A journey into the 3.5 billion-year history of the human body” by Neil Shubin. Just the title is almost enough.
Early in the evening I went back home to sit in what remained of the sun and picked up my book ‘The Help‘ (brilliant, brilliant dialogue and depiction of humanity) while listening to my recorded The Prairie Home Companion: Garrison Keillor makes me smile from my soul, for 2 hours straight, every week. I then made myself a salad, and got into my bed with my novel and read for a couple of hours.
I had a lovely day – one that soothed my harried head and heart after yet another exhausting work week of too-many hours and too-many frustrations. But, as always when I have one of those gentle, solitary days, there is a part of my brain that reminds myself that I’m a single woman and I should probably go ‘out.’ “How will you find a partner if you’re in bed reading at 8 PM?” they say.
Here in Austin, there are so so many things to do – so much great music, theater, concerts, parties – and I know so many people I could do stuff with. But truly – I love my alone time. Is it my Non-Verbal Learning Disorder? Is it my 70 hour work weeks, dealing with people issues for hours each day? Is it my old age? The stage of my life? The assumed amount of ‘work’ that relationships take? Or is it simply that I’m exhausted, and my alone time fills me up.
I’m not convinced it’s possible to have both alone time, work time, and a relationship. I know it’s possible to have long term relationships in which quiet and alone time are factored in. But I don’t know how to start new relationships without the drama of hormones and excitement and newness and feelings and and and.
And so I continue to work and play, in my own unique ways that are often quite solitary. It’s easier. And after all, I am happy. I suppose if/when it’s time to do something different I will. But sometimes I wonder.