An open letter to my husband about why I like it when he and the kids go out of town

You get it, Joe,

Don’t you?

What I mean when I say,

Go.

Yes, please.

Go to your mother’s in California.

Fly standby with the kids,

Gamble that you’ll get on the next flight.

Don’t come home.

Not yet.

The quiet it this city and state

Is delicious.

You and my step-kids in California,

My son with his dad in Finland.

My parents on vacation in Alabama.

Even my brother is in Wisconsin this weekend.

My own little family diaspora,

Leaving me here in Minnesota,

Alone.

No

One

Needs

Me.

What will you do with yourself,

People ask in wonderment.

Oh, I’ll meet friends for coffee,

Go to yoga,

Take a nap on the porch.

It’s supposed to be a secret from you, Babe,

But what I really like to do when you’re gone

Is clean.

I’ve got two small cleaning projects:

My mom cave, which became

The dump spot for wedding detritus,

And my son’s room.

Time to finally get rid of this five-year-old’s size 2T clothes.

But it doesn’t matter what I do.

The deliciousness is in the

Range of my thoughts
When I’m alone.
Books I might write,
Characters,
Like cats that hide under the bed
Until the house is empty
And then slink out to play.
Or just nothing.
An empty mind
Filling up the unclaimed space.
The vastness of human existence,
I can see it
Alone.
Like pulling back on a wide-angled lens.
It’s hard to explain without hurting your feelings.
You miss me when I’m gone
One night on business.
Without my civilizing influence
You stay up too late,
Zombied out on the Internet,
And sleep listlessly,
Staying on your side of the bed.
When I come home,
And am walking past you in our small kitchen,
You pull me by the waist toward you
And hold onto me until I fidget to be let go.
And it’s true.
I wouldn’t enjoy this solitude
Unless I knew you and our family and friends
Were aware of me,
Were maybe even thinking about me,
Were available if I needed them.
That’s the difference between
Solitude and
Loneliness.
Solitude is supported by a
Foundation of
People
Who are not physically present
At that moment.
Loneliness has no such foundation,
Or has the perception of no such foundation,
So that you feel that you’re
Falling through space with
Nothing to catch you.
I’ve experienced both,
And you, Babe,
You’re a part of why this is
Precious solitude.
So thank you,
Joe.
Thank you for leaving me
Alone
This weekend.

Extroverted introvert

I was confused.

I thought, for a long time,

That to be an

Introvert,

You had to be

Shy.

Scared of people.

Timid.

Me,

I’ve always known my

Natural state is

Solitary.

But shy?

Not so much.

I am astonished

At the weird power of the

Social instinct.

Even if I can’t see you,

I feel you when you’re nearby

And I know you feel me, too.

And that’s madness, right?

How can we feel one another without even touching?

Or,

If we laugh together,

Or smile,

Or share a kind word or touch,

Joy nearly brings me to tears.

When I’m out and about,

Which I am

A lot,

I’ll talk to anyone.

Old, young,

Man, woman,

Whomever.

I can even,

Every once in awhile,

Command a room.

But it tires me.

I need to recover from

Time with people.

Alone, quiet,

That’s my recovery.

And if I didn’t have the wisdom to know I must,

For my own health,

Push myself toward you,

My natural state would drive me to

Climb the stairs slowly,

Pulling the door closed behind me,

Holding my book to my chest.

(Because sometimes,

I love books most of all.)

But you see,

I’m not shy.

So I’ll add yet another

Paradox

To my characterization

Of myself

(Oh,

I do love a good paradox):

Extroverted introvert.