I’ve been alone a lot in recent years. Alone is a relative term as usually I have a critter with me, a furry or feathery or finny one. The fact remains they do not expect conversation. So I spend much of my life in silence, speaking rarely.
Anyone who has coffee with me would be shocked by this, because when I am with someone I seem to blurt out all the words I’ve stored up over the days. It’s almost explosive. I know I am speaking too much but I can’t seem to help it – perhaps it is all the time alone, the need to convey information.
Still, I cherish the alone time. I’m not lonely. I love being able to pattern my day without supervision, pacing myself through important stuff and non. I like being able to eat when I will, and what I will (or won’t), play silly computer games without being caught out, just be myself.
Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.
James Russell Lowell
It’s not that I am unsociable. I merely need more alone time than I used to. I have a dear friend who has been visiting on weekends, which is lovely. He gives me space and time alone if I need it, but he is still HERE. And thus, no solitude. So It takes me most of Monday to restore my thinking, refocus, start writing. I wish I could get over this, as it isn’t conducive to a long term relationship if I prefer to be alone. But I know I get frantic when I have company for more than three days, and that even my kids can make me weep with exhaustion if I have to converse for more than a few days in a row. They are considerate, and all, but the fatigue that comes with my MS seems to increase logarithmically with conversation.
I suppose I am an introvert, after all. I suspect my kids are the same. We need mental space to process. We can be cheerful, charming, talkative, easy in a crowd, but I at least need large portions of alone time to reattach myself to myself.
And then I need social time, chatter time, to remind myself that I am, after all, just one among many.
I was talking to some students yesterday about how to contact me – we all agreed that the phone is awful and intrusive, that we’ve become more accustomed to texting or emailing in terms of contact. I wonder if that is because, in this incredibly visually and hearing noisy environment, we need the solitude of withdrawing our voices most of the time, allowing ourselves to process information through our fingers instead of our tongues. Or maybe we are too distractible to keep track of verbal exchanges? Or maybe that’s just me.
Right now, all I know is that I have no desire to speak for a long time. I want to let my brain spin in neutral and let my thoughts come out in my novel, instead.