My husband left yesterday for 48 hours.
Pulled a Fantastic Son maneuver and flew to Chicago to surprise his dad on his 70th birthday. Left to spend rare quality time with immediate nuclear family and gave the wife a couple days of space. The verisimilitude of solitude. (Close enough. I'm still a mom after all. While one kid is away at sleepaway camp, the other one still lives here. Whom I apparently yet need to actively parent when he's not attending day camp or superglued to his laptop. Or sleeping.)
So it's sorta like solitude. Which is a lovely lovely gift. Especially for a musician and writer- right? Some quality time by myself to walk the dog, lay in the sun, perch on my chair in front of the computer, spend some good snuggly time lovingly fondling the tele (oh, how I wish it felt as organic and sexual as all that...) thereby coaxing the next solid Holly Long rock-and-roll tune from within.
This kind of time seems tailor-made for Creation. Creation of songs and writing. Creation of more Me stuff that makes me feel more like Me. Because that's what the openness of "alone" time away from one's spouse or partner, away from one's normal daily life is supposed to generate, yes?
Well now that I am roughly half way through enjoying my little gift, I feel compelled to share what exactly I've been doing with this time. Because perhaps in the writing of it- and therefore in the reading of it, we all might learn something about me. Most of all, maybe I'll learn something about me.
Like the Twilight Zone episode from the second season my son and I enjoyed last night along with a bowl of overly buttery, underly salty popcorn. This was the episode about the middle-aged antique-store owning couple who stumble upon a genie in an old worthless wine bottle. This posh dandy with a top hat- cigarello-dangling from his mouth- genie grants them four wishes. At the end of the episode, they basically just end up thankfully right back where they started, having wasted their wishes on negative consequence-laden ideas like "a million dollars." (Tax man takes all that they don't foolishly bestow on friends.) Or being the "powerful leader of a foreign country." (Husband becomes Hitler for about 10 minutes- in the last throes of the war, holed up sweating in his bunker.) He uses his last of the four wishes to wish himself back to his old life. In other words, the couple, in going through the process of having wishes granted, learn what is really important to them. Which was essentially, what they already had to being with.
OK- oldest moral in the book. But still poignant and relevant. Especially for me finding myself still so often gorging on the delicious dopamine of "what if" in my not-so-free time.
Turns out- here's what I do when I'm given a bunch of alone time:
1. Troll favorite thrift store with friend. (excellent decision) Allow friend to buy me lunch as "belated" birthday treat. Say YES to strawberry frosted white princess cupcake offered free of charge which looks and smells exactly like the cake mom used to make every birthday before age 10. Delicately eat half in restaurant in front of friend. Stuff rest in face like a maniacal starving child upon returning home and entering kitchen, alone.
2. Along with remains of doomed cupcake, come home with royal blue and black satin bowling jacket. Embroidered tigers splashed across back and sleeves along with the word "OKINAWA." (Kinda love this thing.) Also come home with vintage pink floral floor length belted coat which, like Maria's homemade play clothes in "The Sound of Music" looks to be made out of the drapes. (Still kinda love this thing too.)
3. Go on long guilty run after indulging so viscerally in sugar bomb princess cupcake. Also Windex remains from counter.
4. Pick up son from tutoring and take him to what we call "Moving Sushi" restaurant for mommy and me dinner where plates of sushi glide around the room on a little miniature moving walkway. Swap out usual shared bottle of sake for green tea (responsible single parenting.)
5. Come home- watch two episodes of "Twilight Zone" with son along with popcorn. Consume two glasses of wine.
6. Give dog medicine, put her out for final evening pee, close all windows. Retire about an hour after son has gone to sleep.
7. Revel in the fact that tomorrow, once son is off to camp, whole day will be spent artistically. Playing music. Writing essays. Productive, productive, productive.
So far, so good! A great summer afternoon and evening. Not so much generating artistry, but certainly setting the stage for it.
1. Drag oneself out of bed- groggy after having been awoken three times previously during the night to deal with dog and her strange coughing issues.
2. Freak out a little bit about dog. Misplace coffee cup three times. Get befuddled making peanut butter and jelly sandwich for son's lunchbox. Yell at son twice to get his shizz together so you can get him out the door to day camp, give dog morning medicine a bit too early to try to take edge off of worry.
3. Feel really good about yourself that though you didn't sleep well AT ALL and are feeling woozy and hungover- primarily from lack of good solid sleep- you STILL are planning on picking up son's friend and taking him to daycamp along with son. You are still a vaguely dependable mother and friend.
4. Deposit children successfully at camp. Make way to local ghetto Ralph's grocery store. (Not Whole Foods. Too exhausted to deal with parking lot and picky consumerism necessitated therein.) Plog through a small but key list of missing items at home. Return home- put groceries away- feel a bit sleepy.
5. Decide to shake it off by giving dog, who has now ceased coughing, a walk to local coffee shop. Hope to ogle/small talk possible muse-producing, mojo-to-write-music-creating hot hipster dudes along the way. To that end, don some coral lip gloss.
6. On the way, realize yesterday's long run has resulted in oddly swollen and achy left knee. Return home vaguely limping - unsuccessful in procuring usual dog treat at local coffee shop, or spotting any hotties.
7. Glance at clock- realize it's only 11:35 in the AM. Decide that it's ok to spend some unproductive time watching TV. Especially since exercise is now apparently out of the question.
8. Flump down on bed and proceed to watch three Netflix episodes in a row of favorite new TV show "Orange is the New Black" about women in prison. Feel glad to so far not have done anything worthy of landing yourself in prison simultaneous with harboring gnawing suspicion that you may be frittering away your precious "alone" time.
9. Fix yourself entire box of macaroni and cheese for late lunch to make yourself feel better. Eat most of it. Feel worse.
10. Change outfit. That dress wasn't working for you. Put on rocker jeans and old Mickey Mouse Tshirt. NOW you can go in your office and create.
12. Turn on computer. Mostly stay off of Facebook and Twitter. Open up latest essay in Word. Re-read twice and stare at remaining white page for four minutes solid before turning it off and picking up guitar.
13. Plug in guitar to sustain pedal and turn on amp. Plunk away at some underdeveloped ideas. Sing jibberish along with chords for awhile before deciding everything you're playing sounds like a bad Eddie Money tune covered by Pat Benetar with a cold. Try unplugging sustain pedal, thinking this may be at least half of the culprit.
14. Turn off amp. Unplug guitar. It wasn't the sustain pedal after all.
15. Sit down to write an email- a Facebook update- ANYTHING.
16. Write the beginnings of three Facebook updates before eventually logging off.
17. Decide to start writing blog, though you have nothing really to write about except what you've done for the past 24 hours....
18. Start writing blog.
Apparently, even the most precious gift of time can't necessarily be "utilized" to creative expectation. Tonight, I'm taking advantage of my nanny staying late for a few hours to drag myself and my swollen knee two blocks down to the local club I love to play now and again just to swill a wine glass and hear some music. Sometimes, this is the best medicine for feeling lack of energy, mojo, structure, connection. Just being in a room where others are making music, or making merry....makes my time count.
And after all, I think that's what I'm really trying to do here-by myself or with others. Make it count somehow. And I guess that doesn't necessarily mean making "something" all the time. Maybe the cupcake and the OKINAWA satin jacket are enough to allow me to feel my "alone" time was time well spent this past day and a half. Plus, I did write this blog entry after all.
Alright honey. You can come home now--