All to Myself

Living downtown has a rhythm. My husband and I walk to the coffee shop, the butcher, and church. We sit on our front porch and visit with neighbors. And we take our early morning runs around town, being sure to finish up on Caroline Street to check out the latest window displays.

I also find downtown a perfect place for an introvert. Working from home most days means I can go hours without talking to anyone. Not that I mind. Actually, spending time with myself is pleasant.

Before you assume some mental disorder, let me assure you. I do love people. On my walks around town, I enjoy running into friends. Many weekends, we meet up with others for dinner. And we try to make monthly trips to the “big city” (either north or south) for concerts and plays.

But given a choice between spending time curled up on my sofa reading or attending a loud party, well, I usually lean toward the sofa. So during the week when I realize that I have spent four or five hours working on something, and I’ve yet to speak a word, I usually put on my coat and head out the door.

The other day, I walked down to Sammy T’s for lunch. I had picked up a few books at Riverby, so I had my head down in one of them. As I ate a lovely squash salad, I heard words from a conversation about a new store drift in and out. I took bites of lunch and gazed up to watch the waiter and then a mother entertaining a toddler in the booth next to me.

Alone but not alone.

Fredericksburg, small but not too small, is filled with places for people like me. I have wonderful extended conversations with Purna Shrestha from Here and Beyond while I pick up a take-out lunch. Checking in with the butcher, I order our Christmas turkey. Later, the experts at Kybecca fill me in on which wine tastes most like the Shiraz I had at a restaurant last week.

Walking home, I bump into Carl and his tiny terrier, out for their daily stroll. We chat for a few moments about house decorations and the traffic.

And then I’m home again, my anxious Golden Retriever waiting for me at the front door.

We settle in for an afternoon of reading and writing–and silence. Lovely.

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.  ~Paul Johannes Tillich, The Eternal Now