I remember embarking on a three-day road trip after graduation, moving to Ontario in my old Chevy Nova, back seat full of books. All I had for company was a radio which, for many hours through the emptiness spanning the crest of Lake Superior, picked up nothing but static. No ipods or CD players in those days of course, but there was something serene in being alone with my thoughts, as I passed the rare ramshackle motel nestled in the woods or the occasional truck stop rumbling with diesel, reminding me that there were enclaves of humanity amongst the rocks and the dense wilderness of northwestern Ontario.
I feel blessed that I was alone to really absorb the splendor of that perfect moment which arrived on the last day of my trip. I want my last memory in this life to be that clear September morning when I crested the hill in the undulating road to see the entire world had been tranformed into a vista of red, my first sight of the glory of Ontario in autumn, a hillside of brilliant maples illuminated by the morning sun, straight out of those old religious paintings.
I don't know if I would fully have absorbed that moment had I not been alone.
I'm alone for the next week and a half, while the Spousal Unit cavorts on the beaches in Brazil. Okay, he's in meetings, but it's still Brazil. I'm viewing this solitary time as a chance to break from my usual schedule. Workout at 5:00pm, supper at 7:00 hunched over the newspaper, those have been my quiet rebellions from the norm so far. And not to sound too hausfrauish, but I am really keen to throw open all the windows while the weather is fine, strip this place down to the bones, and scrub away the winter filth. Then I shall swan about the house as though I live in a decorating magazine, relishing the crisp lines and the straight edges, knowing that it will stay that way for a few more days.
Tonight I am going to a concert by myself. This will be a new experience for me and, to be honest, I'm rather looking forward to it. It helps that the concert is at a church, so sitting alone in a pew does not have the same discomfort as sitting alone at a bar. I wonder how being alone will shape my appreciation of the music. I'll keep you posted.
I will be taking the train downtown and am debating whether to pack a book for the commute. I am a bit of an anomaly in this era of ubiquitous cell phones and ipods where 90% of passengers on any given train are plugged into something electronic. I don't carry one and I like to use my solitary time to ponder, to write in my head, to make up back stories for my fellow passengers. I am quite sure that would change if I had to take the train every day, though. I too would be plugged into personal electronic body armour, I am sure.
What do you do when you are alone in a crowd?