hard rain

Rain makes the studio feel cozy; it makes me feel cozy. I have a problem with the word “cozy.” I don’t understand why. Perhaps it is because sometimes when people enter into a small space, they say, “cozy” to be polite. Pink noise fills the studio. The dulled light soothes my anxiety. Sudden downpour gives me an excuse for having no plans. I need to move my cactus in before it gets drenched, again. Summer is temporarily paused. As long as it’s raining, summer can’t pressure me into socially drinking sangria until my shoulders freckle and burn. My desire to receive a text inviting me to “fun weekend plans” washes away. The rain forces me into solitude, even if the sky clears within an hour. 

Up until last week, the concept of solitude wasn’t something I was ready to embrace—the idea of being intentionally alone. Since childhood, I have hated being alone. The zombie mob in “Thriller” convinced me that the living dead would drag themselves out the woods by our house to bust through my bedroom window if I fell asleep. Being home alone or sleeping alone made me paranoid and I would panic.

I wonder if being an only child predisposed me to hate “alone.” Oddly, my imagination disregarded these fears. 

Hours in my bedroom were spend imagining my adult life as a career lady in my apartment. I was a professional ballerina, a school teacher, a spy who traveled the world. I was primatologist, a prodigy to Jane Goodall. I was a writer working on my next novel. Sometimes I had a boyfriend. Sometimes I had a class schedule. My apartment-bedroom came with a mailbox Scotch-taped outside of the door. Friends would visit my apartment, but they did not join me in playing “house” as a mother, father, baby, or dog. “House” wasn’t what I imagined for my adult life. 

The studio is my dream come true. I can be whoever I want to be here. 

The best metaphor I know about trying a new thing, or idea, is to liken it to trying on a hat.

You’re curious. You decide to try the hat on. 
- Does it fit? 
- Do you like the way it makes you feel? Does it bring you joy?
- Do you like the way it makes you look? 
- Do you like what is adds to your identity? 
- Is it the perfect style for you? 
- Is it a new style you’ve been wanting to try but until now have been too afraid? 
- Do you want to wear this hat for a week? A month? A year? 
You can choose to wear it now, and change your mind later. Nothing is permanent. If you don’t like it, take it off. No harm done. You tried something new and now you know isn’t for you.  If you like it, go with it.

Being alone wasn’t my choice, but here I am. Half living my dream and equally terrified. To control my anxiety, I must flip—perhaps trick—my mind. I will change my perspective on my situation. I will approach being alone like a new project or an experiment.  

My aim is to be more comfortable intentionally spending time alone. I want to deepen my relationship with myself. Right now, it’s unclear to me what the steps are and if there is an end goal. I’ll constantly be in progress and dwelling in self-reflection. 
Do I vow to stay in all day? Do I limit myself to only texting Mom to check-in? Maybe I’ll establish a “solitude Sunday” rule. The alliteration sounds like a catchy hashtag, which automatically makes me deem it invaluable. I’m already second guessing myself. Could I enjoy an entire weekend alone? I must attend my pilates classes, get iced coffee, and groceries. I’ll still want interactions with people and to spend time with friends. 

I want to commit to practicing solitude, but I need to remain flexible to my moods. Understanding and kindness toward myself will be key. I think I’ll start by claiming one weekend night for my practice.

Solitude challenges me the most between 5 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday. The stretch between work and a spontaneous happy-hour drink. I dread this uncomfortable hour. Since high school I’ve associated having no plans on a Friday night with having no friends. Even though this isn’t true, the insecure inner voice still encourages me to say yes to every opportunity to be out with friends. Otherwise I don’t know what to do with myself until it’s the appropriate time to order Chinese take-out. So, I tidy. I wash my mugs from last night’s tea and this morning’s coffee. I attempt to read but lose focus easily. I sit on my patio and watch my neighborhood. I refresh Instagram. I FaceTime my parents. I actively try to stop my brain from anticipating a text from a friend. 

In "Slow Days, Fast Company", Eve Babitz suggests that if you want to be invited to something, you should make yourself scrambled eggs “to show God that you are serious about staying home and being virtuous. His interest is then piqued as He seeks to devise an appropriate temptation for you to succumb to.” 

Of course, I have anxiety about my friends forgetting my existence. I imagine quietly slipping away into books, being isolated and never invited out again. Even though I’ve had this idea of practicing solitude for over a week, I’ve continued to say yes when invited and made plans. I should be confronting my discomfort with being alone. 

My cactus looks better than it has in over a year. The rain helped it look healthy again.