I recently spent 3 days alone. Yep, you heard me - 3 DAYS. Hubby and kids left for a 3 day rock concert & camping extravaganza, and I had a 3 day retreat at home. It's a recent development for us to do something without the others (I can hear the feminist groans already), especially for 3 whole days (can you tell I'm jazzed about the 3 days thing?). These days, most social commitments are chosen because we all want to do it. So it's a bit of late-blooming liberation for me to say, simply, I don't want to go.
No particular reason. Other than I'm not much of a concert kinda grrrl. And that I wasn't in the mood for campsite and concert behavior. Oh, and that I'm not much for camping with a big group of strangers. Well, and that I'm not fond of being sweaty and dirty and unkempt in front of 25,000 people. (Hey, it might be a little vain or overly insecure but I'm an 80's child, it's par for the course.) So I guess there were reasons.
And besides... after I'd finally admitted I didn't want to go, a tiny beam of light shone through the crack and I suddenly got a little breathless... I'll be ALONE for 3 DAYS...
I love my boys and all, I really do. And I love the night after night of family time we get, the intimate togetherness of homeschooling, the long hours of quality time in the car en route to the dozens (and dozens) of faraway soccer games, the hiding in the bathroom so I can get a freaking moment to myself - er, oops - see, I think I'm in need of a little alone time. Just a little.
What to do, what to do, I sang, as my imagination ran amok and I pondered all the options in front of me. Nab some grrrlfriends and go to the lake house? Schedule a spa day? Plan short day trips to nearby attractions? Sleep in until noon? What to do can become a burden in itself, when you're so worried you'll squander away the short time and not have anything sweet to show for it.
Just so happens, though, that I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and this proved the perfect inspiration for my 3 Days Solo.
I ate. Not much in the mood to cook, I polished off leftovers, stopped for an avocado-filled burrito at my favorite Mexican spot, and sat in the local pizza joint all alone on a busy Friday night with my laptop and book in a far back corner and ordered the expensive and obnoxiously huge "Tour of Italy," a sampler of menu items. I shared a gorgeous salad trio with friends and we all three spooned from a bowl of kiwi lime soup. I picked fresh raspberries from my very own patch and topped them with organic vanilla yogurt and grape nuts for a crunch. I stopped in on mom and helped her finish off the deeeelish leftover Arroz con Pollo, made by my Panamanian-by-marriage sister Jackie for a gathering of farmers.
I prayed. In my own way, of course. I spent several hours at a local forest preserve. I hiked through a prairie and a forest and honored the spirit of each place. I did yoga in a meadow and took deep breaths of the sweet air and blue skies. I stretched out on a blanket and closed my eyes and gave thanks for the quiet. I built a small obos with stones I'd gathered on my hike, as an offering to the beauty of this place. And I sat, just sat - on my deck, at the park, near a meditation pond, at an intersection, in the booth of the restaurant - each moment sacred.
I loved. I had dinner with my mom. I spent a lovely day with two special friends at the Japanese Gardens, where the best part was sitting on a bench overlooking a meditation pond and chatting for a long while. I missed my boys, all three, really missed their noise and energy and presence as the emptiness of my home reminded me of just how hollow life would be without them. And I nurtured myself and honored my desires for those three days. Which sometimes meant sitting for hours on the porch with tea and a journal, sometimes meant trying on dozens of shoes even though I don't need any more, and sometimes meant pausing for as long as I wanted to gaze upon a field of wildflowers, or watch a squirrel leap from high limb to high limb above me, or enjoy the view from my deck to the east which never fails to stop me in my tracks even though I've gazed that way a zillion times.
The boys beat me home, my outing with grrrlfriends having stretched later into the day than planned. And it was so good to see them. I with rested eyes, they with weary feet, the makings of a sweet reunion.
Life is good.