On Being Alone, Cultivating Presence & Trips to Bordeaux #pardon
I have written a lot about doing new things in a new place. Saying yes to adventure. Ruthlessly pursuing friends regardless of their proclivity for my company. And yet, as a dear friend recently texted "we di[n]e alone". Good one, right? Other stuff and peope are fun, but being a happy adult, a fulfilled human isn't about that.
I have always loved being alone and chosen, for as long as I could afford it, to live that way. But living alone in a city you have grown up, with friends and family minutes away is not in fact, very much alone. Perhaps the deepest thing I've stumbled upon in this new place is a greater sense of solitude and what that means.
Lately I've been thinking lots about the different qualities of time alone. How the same activity shifts and snakes and makes me feel. I'll segment it into three because aren't lists clarifying, if rarely accurate or encompassing the gray.
Obviously. For me this translates to an empty feeling in the pit of your cartoon heart that seems pointless to fill. The idea that others don't care. That there is no where to find understanding. This type of aloneness can be found in a relationship, in a crowd or completely by oneself. It is demonized as pathologic and depressive, but so normative that if anyone claims they never feel it, I hazard to say they feel it the most or aren't paying attention. This type of aloneness is awful. I thankfully feel it not too much, but when I do I've learned to reach out to careful friends who will acknowledge the gargabe without positivity because that's what works for me. Yeah, being an adult is sometimes really fucking shitty and hard and long and full of disappointment and constant adversity that is largely shaped by your previous decisions and actions, so surpsise! Your fault. #stressgeneration This type of lonliness particularly catches me when ending relationships - especially if they are the most toxic because Will You Have This Rose Person Who Treats Me The Worst (Most of The Time But the Best Every Other Tuesday When the Moon is Full) #swoon. It also catches me in times things don't go my way; I am spoiled from a youth of things happening seamlessly as long as I try hard. Adulthood isn't school where work in = work out. Sometimes stuff goes bad, but it probably doesn't mean you are a misunderstood island of consciousness with your best years and toga parties behind you. Still, feels that way sometimes. That's cool.
2. Distraction/ Mindlessness
Lonliness is active. It is the active realization that you are without. It is a tangeable sensation, a body-encompassing ache that can be muted with substance or sensation, but isn't going anywhere. This is different from the modern phenomenon of mindlessness.
Mindlessness, momentarily can feel nice. There is a reason Americans watch so much TV and "vegging out" is a term we understand has nothing to do with carrots. Like many young-ish people, I pride myself in never having owned a TV. (Un)fortunately, computers are like TVs, but whatever you want is always on.
Recently, after all of the trips and adventures and people and flights, I craved a day at home. When it came I woke up excited. I ran. I bought healthiest groceries. I made hummus with a newly purchased blender that has since met the fate of every other blender I thought was a good idea to buy - i.e., awkwardly remained on my counter in weird bits and pieces, clunky, difficult to clean and impossible to find an appropriate home for, destined to be put on the curb in a fit of rage until one day I really want a smoothie. Anyways, post hummus, I'm like COOL NOW YOU JUST GET TO BE AT HOME YESSSS.
I watched netflix. I read internet articules. I refreshed social media. I watched netflix while reading internet articles and refreshing social media. I vowed to Read A Book before becoming instantly distracted and checking social media/ opening netflix/ opening 7 new york times articles. Then it was the night and all I had to show for it was a dull aching in my skull from too much stimuli and the light festering of a bed sore (just kidding! #sext).
Distraught, I skyped a close friend. "I am the fucking worst at existing sometimes", I lamented. "Oh", she said, "throw away days, yeah, we all have those."
Some modern days are just a waste, passing all of the hours half distracted by 17 things. For me, this feels 100x worse than lonliness because it is so easy and thoughtless and vapid. My greatest fear is more of my pie chard inching to this black hole of technology and brain plaque. I like netflix. I like the internet. I like my phone. But damn, mindlessness as alone time = no thanks.
3. Fulfillment/ Restoration
And then there's this. The type of solitude we pay $20 a yoga class to hear about (and a $2 mat fee, namaste).
I'd best describe it as the feeling of being in one's body and feeling full. Not observing from above or grasping for outside, but embodying from within. It doesn't require DEEP THOUGHTS or expensive meditation necklaces, but a real presence and comfort and silence.
If I were to have a resolution, it would be to catch more of this. It feels like a catch because this is the type of aloneness we all want, always, but it isn't always there. I can make my glove bigger (get it, catch?! #sorry #notsorry #whatever) by obvious lame sounding things we all know. Yoga with favourite teachers, running so fast I forget that I'm running, walking with presence in a vibrant neighbourhood, taking time to make and eat really healthy, good food, having bubble baths every night I possibly can, doing good work I'm proud of, spending quality time with friends. All of these enriching things from outside fill me with calm, so that when I'm without them I'm content; I don't want for anything.
I got a taste of this, this past weekend. My first nice weekend brunch alone. I sat outside watching a quiet street, feeling the wind, relishing every indulgent bite of my egg and gruyere crepe and dreaming about spring. There is no where else I wanted to be and no one else I wanted to be with. It felt good.
I received an invitation for spring the next day (because #timing) to attend an opening dinner at a fancy Chateau - the launch of their 2014 vintage and the beginning of en primeur. I have no idea why I was invited - well, probably because I lived in Bordeaux and did visit the chateau as part of a high end group. They likely mistake me for an actual member of this group and not a con-woman looking for blogging material, adventure and perfect pastry. I will certainly know no one there. I want to say YES because holy crap what a silly opportunity to meet amazing (and insane) people, see the epitome of high end wine sales and score mania and likely swindle my way into many more tasting events. And yet, I am afraid of a trip alone - my first, really. How do I know I won't feel awkward or lonely or distracted? I don't. But fuck it, I'll go. Worst case, I hear French netflix is really taking off.