Over on her site, CardioGirl posed the following question: “Would you enjoy spending a month of solitude in a beautiful natural setting? Food and shelter would be provided but you would not see another person.” She put a few restrictions on the solitude — no internet, no cell phone, no radio, no tv. No electronics, even! That part might be a wee bit difficult for me. I guess that includes my digital camera, which would make me sad. But if she’d let me take it, plus several SD cards for data storage, I would be a happy camper. If not, I’ve still got my dad’s old 35mm Minolta. Either way, I’m taking a camera with me.
Yes, folks, I would relish the solitude. Several of her posters pointed out that they need a break from the hectic life that is parenting children. For me, that’s got very little to do with it. Right now, I’m able to get away from the kids and hang out with adults whenever it strikes my fancy, since my husband is more than willing to take over parenting duties. Having toddlers is totally different from having teenagers too. For the most part, Grace isn’t very mouthy (and ME doesn’t even talk yet!), and whatever activities they’re signed up for are the ones I’ve decided on. They’re not coming home and telling me that they’ve signed up for yet another after-school activity for which I will have to employ Mom’s taxi service.
[Here’s a little aside — why do parents have to provide transportation all the time now? I have known several parents who do not trust the school buses, which I find a little… odd. In fact, I have been called upon to supply Mom’s taxi service to those children at times, when I don’t even have school-age kids! When I was in school, I walked to and from elementary school by myself by the time I was 4, or I rode the bus starting in the 5th grade. And if I had to stay after school, I either walked home, took the activity bus, or bummed a ride from my friends’ parents. The one time I couldn’t get a ride home from school, when I got a bogus detention in the 6th grade, both my parents had to come home early from work that day, as they carpooled together to the Navy base. That was such an uncomfortable experience that I never again asked for a ride home from my parents.]
So my life isn’t so hectic that I need an escape. I simply enjoy being by myself. I always have been a solitary soul. Growing up in northern Virginia after my dad got custody of us, there were few kids of my age close to my house. They all lived outside my allowable biking radius. Books were my friends instead. In fact, my mom would bug me to go outside to play, so I would just take my book and sit under the sugar maples and read as the sunlight filtered through the tree’s leaves. Yes, I do have siblings — but my sister was five grades ahead of me in school, so when I was still playing with dolls she was interested in boys. There was just nothing we had in common as kids. When my brother came home, I was already ten years old, so there was even more of a gap. In a lot of ways, I grew up feeling like an only child, though I am actually the middle kid.
But in the ninth grade, when we were living in Nebraska, I became a social butterfly. Part of that was because I needed to get out of my house. It was a very stressful time for my family, and my parents have never handled stress well. I decided to make myself scarce, and it was then I began to blossom into a more socially active person. It was nice for a while, but the years went on, and I began to realize that not everyone who acts like a friend to your face is really a true friend. That became painfully clear during college, so after graduation I walled myself off to some degree and began to nurture my solitude.
And then we moved to Washington state in the spring of 2003. Two weeks after we moved into our house, Kurt left for what ultimately was a seven-month deployment to the Middle East, though we had no idea at the time how long he would be gone. I didn’t have a job, and since I had just moved 3000 miles from my comfort zone, I had no family or friends to occupy me. Amazingly enough, this was before I had such a support system over the internet, so I was really and truly alone for much of the time. I spent a lot of time watching tv, of course, but I read a lot, and I walked the dog a lot, and I even spent a fair amount of time just sitting on the hill in my backyard, letting the sun wash over me and enjoying the shapes the clouds made in the sky.
A whole month to myself, then? No contact with the outside world? I could handle that. Personally I would like a cabin in the woods by a pond, preferably with a stream so I can hear the movement of the water. Each day I’ll leave a note on the fence with the food I’ll need for the next day, and some mysterious person will deliver my goods for the day. I’ll read book after book after book, and I’ll get back into writing long-hand as well. I’ll even take my stitching with me and finally finish the birth sampler I started when my best friend gave birth to her son two and a half years ago.
A month later I’ll emerge with a better understanding of myself and how I fit into this world. And that can’t possibly be a bad thing.