I used to drive until I reached half my tolerance for driving, then drive home. Windows down. Music loud. Or no music at all. Sun on my face. Long hair streaming. Then short hair whipping. Satisfied in my aloneness, that warm sun, and deafening wind were the end, not some physical, mappable location.
Later, I met someone to brave the wind and sun with me. I no longer drove, but rode. Windows down. Sunglasses on. Warm boy beside me. Alone in a sense, as the wind drove conversations into my mind, but together.
Then the dark years. These years, after marriage began, after seminary ended, these years a deep rot set into my mind. Alone, never. Lonely, always. Dark fears, long nights of crying, of unbearable guilt, of depression. I never adventured, alone, or with my love. Wandering became unsafe. Exactly one corner of one couch in my house felt safe, and only then with knees tucked up.
Today, in a rare instance since the birth of my daughter, I had hours to myself. My favorite ritual these days is my shower, and in that space, I felt the scar that guided Valentine into the world. A smirk, a lopsided grin low slung across my belly. For the first time, in my aloneness, I did not run from that scar. I did not run from myself in busyness. Atypically, I laid no plans. I stood in the shower, and mourned my previously pristine tummy, and smooth, sunny rides, and untethered life. I felt a calmness in the mourning – a connectedness to myself, and my new, rich reality.
Then, the broken world crept in. A wayward brother broke my parents’ hearts anew – the only means he has left of breaking mine. I read of bitter strife as the god-family fights over who gets to eat at our table – and deliberately leaves out many. I felt the old fears knocking. The old agonies pressing against me. Heretical beliefs these, the ones that tell me when I’m connected, when I experience good life, bad must happen. I pushed them aside to hold my mom together with a good vacuuming, and her favorite, hot and sour soup. I chose to live the entanglement of family. I lost the happy calm.
I shared my day with my therapist, and after the staccato repeating of it, felt the memories of my former legato drives rising into the space between us. I felt the urge to edit. What could that possibly have to do with anything? I told him anyway. I told him of the shower, and the scar, and the mourning, and the contentment, and it all fell together for me.
I think my desire to experience aloneness demonstrates great growth. Today, I lived alone, for a few hours, and even after the confusion of a grief-packed day, the traces of it still wafted to me, until I followed them down, and named them. I named my choices and changes. I named the gift of aloneness. I remembered and lingered over the sense of sun and wind.
Driving home, I dropped the windows. I selected back ways that took me miles from the normal path. I played the music until I could feel it, and sang it until the world heard me. The sun. The wind. The hair. The baby’s car seat behind me. The mom car. My new rich reality.