Wednesday, June 19, 2013

being a drifter

This gypsy is swiftly settling into her temporary location. And I am realizing how much I enjoy living alone. That is not to say I don't like and appreciate the people who have invited me into their homes. I do. I really, really do. But there is something to be said for solitude.

It's no wonder my last roommate situation was an apartment full of closed doors and note-card conversations. It's hard to tell if that experience is what now drives the desire to live alone, or if that experience was born out of the preference for living alone. It's kind of the chicken or the egg thing. I know that some people don't understand this need to be alone. And I do mean need. It's not a selfish thing (not always). Extroverts may not understand that, but fellow introverts get it. (If you want to learn more about introverts go watch Susan Cain's Ted Talk.)

Don't take this the wrong way. When I say, I have come to enjoy living alone, that does not exclude a desire to live in community. The two don't go hand-in-hand. I very much desire to live in community with others. And I strive to do just that in my neighborhood. I have come to know myself, and when I need to be surrounded by others, when to seek the company of others, and when to simply be alone. It's a learning process. And moments of solitude play an important role.

The first time I really thought about solitude was in college, when all the counselors at summer camp had to read Henri Nouwen's "The Way of the Heart." We were instructed to go find a place around camp and be alone and quiet and listen. I don't remember where I spent that time. By the lake? Or near the trees? Or even if it lasted 30 minutes or an hour. But I haven't forgotten the lesson of being alone and sitting in nature.

Just because I didn't realize solitude was a thing until my 20s, doesn't mean I didn't seek it out at a younger age. I used to hide in the lilac hedge next to the backyard playhouse. At least until we moved across town. That new house had cavernous closets that were the ideal place to sit and think when there was no where else to be alone in a family of six. Seeking solitude is just part of my nature.

Like that Drifter's song, is there a place you escape to?

There is a place I go a short drive from town. It's close enough for an impromptu Sunday picnic, or a sit after work. But it's far enough away that there are only minimal signs of civilization. It's not a secret place. But it feels that way. It is not among the popular places to hike in the area. And therein lies its appeal. Don't bother asking where it's at, because I won't tell you. That'd ruin it. It's just a place I go to see the view and sit and listen and be still.


  1. This struck a chord with me. Sometimes on my lunch hour I take a sandwich and drive to one of the smaller parks in town and park and listen to a book on tape just so I can just some solitude. I love my family but sometimes I just need to be with me. Thanks for expressing this so beautifully.

    1. I just did lunch in the car last week. It was just in the parking alley, so not anywhere pretty. But it was warmer in the car than outside. Car tanning -- I think that's what we call it.