Yesterday coming home from shopping for clothes, Christopher said to me that he hates the idea of living in suburbia. I’m not sure what he meant, but he may have meant that it’s difficult to find space when there are people and houses everywhere. Space for what? Space to be alone.
Some things you have to have other people to do: play basketball, create children. Some things are just more fun when done with other people, such as eating or watching movies. But there are also tons of stuff you can’t do when your attention is divided between yourself and other people: you can’t meditate in a herd. You can’t read, or write, or repent of your sins, or ponder anything when you’re trying to think of the next word in a conversation.
When Karla wants to be alone she shuts the door to the bathroom. Chrisopher either goes down to his room, or makes the teridactyl noise, which from nearly infancy to his current sixteen years of age, means back off. You’re invading my territory. Other people have found other forms of antisocial behavior that help: glaring, making rude comments, passing gas. Keep your distance! I want to be alone.
My friend has a couch on her porch. She lives in a house with other women, so all through the fall when she wanted to sit with her journal she would go outside and wrap a blanket around herself and write. Through the fall she discovered her voice.
Holding a journal in your hand is helpful, even if you’re not writing, or writing nonsense, becauseit is an acceptable social act. I think people are often suspicious of someone who wants to be alone. “What’s wrong?” they ask. As if being alone is a threat to their self image. “Don’t you like me?” They may try to help us out? Come and watch this show with me. It’s time for dinner. Aren’t you cold? All translate to why are you exhibiting this antisocial behavior. But if you have a book in your hand, either for reading or for writing in, they may leave you alone. You might be doodling naughty pictures, or writing silly jingles, or just making lines on the paper, but you seem industrious, so they will leave you to your own devises.
This year I bought a new laptop which when I open it, seems to smile at me, saying, come inside my arena and I will give you an excuse to be alone with yourself. I have it at my desk and I bought a nice chair, or nice enough. When I open my computer, Karla will occasionally walk through and say something. I sometimes don’t hear her, which is rude, but I think she’s getting the message.
My computer has a big enough memory for a lot of music. Some music is no good for being alone with. Anytime I can understand the lyrics I have trouble. But a lot of jazz with no vocalists, loud rock where the lyrics are inane, all enable me to keep my focus. I want to say that sexy female vocalists also enable me to keep my focus, but that would be a lie.
I realize I started to write about being alone to learn about myself, to meditate or to just have a smile with myself, but I ended on being alone in order to write. Those two are not always the same thing. When I sit down with the need to write something, I’m not really being with myself. I have a job to do, which is very different from wandering in a journal, seeing what might come up. Or dozing, or just having a mental chat. I guess both kinds of alone time are important to me. I think I drastically shortchange the relaxed kind of alone time. Although this has been pleasant, I find my mind making the teradactyl noise. Leave me alone, back off, I’m perfectly happy being by myself.