Tuesday, March 02, 2010

take me out tonight

I'm pretty good with my own company. Sometimes I actually relish the chance to set out on my own, to live inside my head for an extended time.

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?

21 comments:

Allison said...

I'm alone so much, I often forget that this is not the case for everyone. I need time spent alone, or I start to go batty.

Growing up we always had dinner past 7, as both my parents worked later schedules, and this is something I've carried into my adult life.

I've been taking the train lately without my ipod, and usually with or without I make up stories in my head. Time passes much more quickly and I entertain myself. If I'm lucky I'll even remember to scribble in my notebook, too.

Enjoy the concert tonight, and the week of alone time! Although, you do have Sputty. ;)

John Mutford said...

I always need something in my hand when I'm alone. Water. Beer. A newspaper. Electric flyswatter. Anything. Then I'm good.

Have a good time!

leazwell said...

I'm smiling so big right now. I would say sitting alone in a pew has no discomfort whereas alone at the bar...

Enjoy flyng solo this week!

umbrellalady said...

Sounds divine! In the rare moments I get alone,I totally relish the silence (well almost silence what with the bird chirping, cats and/or dog fighting...) lol At best, there is no unnecessary human chatter to clutter my day.

LesleyG said...

Good for you! I've really become accustomed to my time alone over the years, hopefully not too much so.

Wandering Coyote said...

I am alone most of the time (except for Juno) and sometimes I love it and sometimes I really hate it.

I hope you do enjoy your solitude this week...Are you going to walk around naked in your living room?

Anonymous said...

Spousal Unit reporting. Made it to Brazil. 16 hours spent on planes, 1 1/2 hours going through customs and a 2 1/2 hour drive from Sao Paulo to the oceanside hotel. Dam hotel wireless isn't allowing me to get through on regular e-mail. Just want to let you know I am fine. Enjoy Basia!

SU

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I wish I was there to see you fly solo into that music scene.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks for the message, SU! Glad you finally made it, get some rest now.

Everything is fine here. Just heading out the door now!

Sorry for the brushoff, everybody. I will respond to your pithy and thoughtful comments later.

muah!

Jas B said...

Always alone these days Barb!
Me myself and my thoughts, I tend to ruminate a lot...and then sometimes worry over little things and stress myself out...
Drove all alone from Calgary to here, even with the ipod playing, the thoughts took precedence and the music became oblivious...all I could savor was the road on front of me and the beautiful sights...can't wait to do it all over again end of August, when I drive back to Calgary...I'll like to call it home...
Enjoy the alone time Barb...Could you not have travelled with Jerry, you could have checked out the beaches while he tackled the meetings! :)

Remi said...

I love reading on the subway. It's one of the joys of commuting by transit.

That drive north of Lake Superior is a trip everyone should make at least once. It's amazing.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

When we first moved here, one of Eva's little friends told us that in Alberta it's the law that you have to eat supper at 5:00. We've been risking getting arrested ever since.
It's nice to know that you make up stories while commuting as well, Al. Of course scribbling them down is dependent upon not being caught in the commuter crush nor in the loud obnoxious drunk ride.

You should take up smoking, John! Problem solved.

I guess one doesn't usually worry about finding a date to go to church, do they, Leazwell? And not too many people hit on you there.

I rather like the human chatter, Kathy, which is why CBC is generally playing in the background during my day. Of course you have pet chatter to keep you company. My pet is very silent.

Last time I checked, you had not started collecting multiple cats, Lesley, so I think you haven't yet overstepped any solitude boundaries.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

We have really big living room windows, WC, so I think I should spare my neighbours something they would really rather not see. I may play the guitar and make up some songs though. Definitely a solitary activity.

You would have been proud of me, Dr M. I didn't talk to myself or anything!

You are moving back at the end of August, Jas? Great news! Well, I am sorry things did not work out for you there, but I am really happy that you are returning.
Solitary roadtrips really do give you the time and space to ruminate. Next time I am bringing a recorder and making up stories.
Sadly, I wasn't invited to Brazil. Plus you need a visa to enter the country!

You must commute at times when the other 147,873,873 people do not, Remi. Or can you read standing up.
I agree that everyone needs to make the top of Superior trip. I've done it a few times and it is awe-inspiring. I never want to tackle it in winter though.

umbrellalady said...

Sorry Barb - unnecessary chatter is not necessarily a bad thing - just a break is kind of nice once in a while

Gifted Typist said...

Sweet solitude is over rated, but i hope you enjoy yours

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I agree, Kathy, but 5 or 10 minutes of silence is usually enough for me.

It's still pretty good so far, Gifted, so long as the cat doesn't mind me talking to her.

lisleman said...

I've noticed people who seem to be uncomfortable being by themselves. I wonder if there are different levels of imagination and those with low level imagination just can't enjoy the world as much without people.
Your story (good one) reminded me of being alone in Ireland (I'm from the states) once and really enjoying it.

"...the race is long but in the end it's only with yourself"

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hi and welcome Lisleman. That's an interesting premise you put forward, about varying levels of imagination. You could be onto something too, as it seems many people who enjoy being alone spend their time creatively inside their own skulls.
I've never travelled that far from home alone, though!

mister anchovy said...

Every year or so, I like to take off for a week or so on my own. A few times I've driven to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, set up camp and chased some trout. I've even done roadtrips across the country on my own. I think it's a healthy way to recharge. This year my plan is to take a couple 4 day weekends in August/September and drive north with Memphis, camp out and forage for mushrooms. I don't know if being with your dog counts as being alone though.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That all sounds quite divine and peaceful, Mr Anchovy. I think it still counts if you have your dog along, as I still count being alone with my cat. Anybody that can't run into the gas station and buy chips gets a by.

leazwell said...

Just the Holy Spirit!