To Be or Not to Be Alone

I have spent most of this Sunday, right at the edge of the week and the year, alone. It has been delicious. As an introverted person being alone is good and restorative for my soul. It refills my reserves of energy. Many things are best enjoyed alone: immersing one self in a creative task that demands concentration (like drawing with very fine ink liners), listen to favorite music with the headphones on so it can be uproariously loud, sing very badly and without any care, make ridiculous dance moves for only the cat to witness, sink into a book in complete silence, write, walk around in one’s glorious nakedness (cellulite and stretchmarks and all), or daydream without interruptions. I find myself sometimes in very saturated routines and not always get to be alone, so I treasure days like today. My need for these spaces creates a bit of tension with my husband who is an extrovert and the most social of social people and for whom an experience is almost meaningless unless it is shared. He socializes everything, even activities that one would think are designed for being alone, like reading, and he bursts into the room and reads to me what he just read and found interesting or funny (and I love him for that, and many other reasons).

In his book “Immortality” Milan Kundera describes a woman named Agnes that finds herself feeling a lot better when she doesn’t have to share her office with any co-workers for a week, simply because it means being free of other people’s gazes.  I am a lot like Agnes. I love all my co-workers but part of the reason I enjoy being alone is because no one looks at me and I feel relaxed and completely free. Privacy it’s effortless and light. I wouldn’t like to be famous because I love walking down the street while being anonymous and forgettable and unburdened by people’s attention.

But as much as I remember Agnes, I also remember Celine (Julie Delpy) from the movie “Before Sunrise” and very specifically I remember a scene in a little alley where she explains to Jesse (a very young and handsome Ethan Hawke) that if there is anything God-like and magic in this world, it’s not locked inside you, or me, but lies in the space between us. I agree, and I treasure that piece of dialogue from the movie and think about it often.

So while the week and the year ends I type these lines to be thankful for all the hours I got to spend by myself, and to be even more thankful for the moments in which the distance between myself and someone else was filled by a road or a line or a bridge, and a treasure of magic and electricity that was waiting there, in the space between us, got to be found and got to change us, and changed me. I hope for a new year filled with private hours (I want to draw a lot and write a lot and perform lots of weird dance moves for my cat), and also I hope for a new year charged with the electricity that fills us with excitement and awe, when we connect to other human beings. So be it.

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