After the holidays, when everyone packed up and went back home to Connecticut, I stayed behind. I needed focused time to finish my next book, so I exiled myself to our house here in Pennsylvania. It would be just me, the kitchen and my laptop. No more distractions. No land line here. No cable. No car, even.
David comes down every weekend, but other than that it’s just me and the Pennsylvania woods. After a month in solitary, I’ve learned a few things.
I know how to build and sustain a fire so hot the home furnace rarely kicks in. David’s always taken care of that, but when the fire-maker is gone you find out how to kindle one yourself. That or do without. And I love a fire too much to fail at it. It feels good.
And with record snowfalls here in the Northeast, I’ve had to dig out of some heavy messes. David’s not here. I’ve got to grab that shovel and let the drifts know there’s a woman living here who will not be snowed in.
I rely more on my body clock. Since there’s no one to share meals with, I simply eat when I get hungry. I eat lighter, but more frequently. I frequently stand when I eat (not happy about that). I don’t need an alarm either. I just tend to wake up when it’s time to get up.I listen to the radio and read more. This home is mostly a weekend getaway, so there’s no cable. You can’t turn on the TV just to fill the house with noise, voices, pointless drama. I stay in touch via computer, and I find I enjoy the radio (especially WHYY, Philadelphia). Best of all, I’m back to reading more and that feels good.
I don’t need a car. I had planned to rent one, but since I only really needed it for grocery shopping, I decided to see if I could do without. Since I’m in the final development phase of my new cookbook, this could have been disastrous. “Oops I’m out of chili powder, gotta run to the store.” Instead, it has forced me to plan ahead. I shop once a week when David comes. And I jog down to the yoga studio in town. There is life without wheels.
I stay in better touch with my family and friends. I savor texts, phone calls, and e-mails. There’s no replacement for being together, but somehow I feel more keenly connected. In the age of communication overload, less is sweeter.
I’m less afraid to live alone. I’ve always been fine with a solitary night here and there, but I’ve been a slightly anxious loner. Who could be out in those woods, looking in that dark window? It’s a woman thing. No more. I boldly move about in my home, on my land.
So I’ve learned a lot, just in time to go home. But a different “I” returns.