Waiting for a train, I casually find a seat among strangers. The bench is hard and the still afternoon air is warm and stifling. I am strangely content even as a bead of sweat makes its way down my neck and between my breasts.
I notice a young woman looking at me slightly curiously. She hauls her luggage behind her as she walks towards me and sits down on the bench next to me in a casual sort of way as if we knew each other. Smiling, she asks me, “how far along are you?” I answer politely that I have a few more weeks to go. She asks if I know what I am having and I tell her that it is a Boy. “I had a boy”, she states in a reminiscent tone that held both sadness and a sense of wonderment as if that time in her life had been a dream that she was momentarily revisiting. Her eyes sparkled with an inviting pleasantness, an uncommon trait amongst strangers met on train platforms.
We continue our friendly conversation about baby clothes, the strange still heat of the day, summer scarves and the likelihood of the train arriving on time. It doesn’t of course and our conversation loses momentum, becoming a staggered repetition of head nods and polite smiles.
The train pulls into the station and we rise from the bench, her with ease and I with a slow deliberate heave. As she gathers her luggage and we make our way towards the train she says to me, “I just have to tell you that you are beautiful, a truly glowing woman. You look like you are at peace. Are you? Are you at peace?”
“Yes, I am at peace, very much so.”
I will never be alone again.
Some may find this a beautiful and comforting thought. For me however this thought/realization scares the shit out of me. I adore my alone time, I search out solitude the way most seek friends and companionship. Simply being around most people exhausts me. I should clarify that, being around people with whom I am obligated to socialize with is what exhausts me. Being around people on a crowded bus suits me just fine. Just please don’t expect me to chat with you. And please keep the pick up lines to a minimum. I hear the same lines over and over; “hey girl, what’s your ethnicity” and “hey girl, how old are you”. Why are these inappropriate questions seemingly the only things men can manage to say to me? I am polite and answer accordingly and am usually left alone after they realize I am not a 21 year old Asian girl, I just look like one at first glance. I then resume my reading or contemplative stare out the bus window. I find peace in the dilapidated houses and boarded up storefronts which litter my city in tucked away pockets only visible to those who can manage to take their attention away from their cell phones for a moment. I find my quiet amidst the cacophony of the traffic and the clamor of the city’s masses.
This is all about to end. My peace, my solitude, my secret of being alone.
I had this shocking revelation at the movies yesterday. I was sitting alone, writing in my journal during the coming attractions even though I couldn’t see what was I writing (a really interesting way to write by the way) when I suddenly realized that in a few months an afternoon like this one would never happen again. Never again will I be able to take off to the movies by myself with no more preparation than checking the showtimes in the paper. Never again will I be able to lie in a park with only my own adult self to worry about. I will be chasing a child around the park instead of reading and napping without giving any notice to my surroundings. I will be worrying about that strange man who doesn’t seem to have any particular reason for being there, that dirty looking kid who probably has head lice and possibly even ringworm, that annoying mom always trying to hand out anti-bacterial gel to the kids after they play on the swings and the fact that my kid is eating sand and most likely cat shit. This will be my life, holy fucking shit this will be my life! What have I done?
I can already feel my solitude being stolen from me, my peace disturbed and off balance, my alone has been compromised.