Belonging in public spaces

I’m going through and rescuing some old drafts that got lost in the draft box, so hopefully for the next couple weeks I’ll be posting more frequently. Some of the details might be a bit out of date, though, although sometimes I will try and update the post.


I don’t belong in public spaces. They are full of people with their people-rules.

There are parks and lakes and walks nearby where I live. I can’t go outside in them alone. I can’t go in shared space alone.

So I got a dog.

When I have a dog, walking in public is my space too.


This one needs some updating.

Don’t worry, friends. I do go outside alone now. I don’t normally just chill in a park by myself reading or something (although I am fine doing that on the college campus where I work now–random aside: one big bonus of working on a college campus is that during summer I can just go literally nap on the quad maybe by the English department where no one who knows me will see me and (1) people will just think I’m at a meeting or something productive and (2) it’s totally completely normal.) Also I do–and always have done–normal and necessary living things like walking to get places. I just tended to (and still do) feel uncomfortable just sitting around not doing things around strangers.

Also, I have learned the best ways around this is to embrace the early mornings and late nights. Summer mornings at 5am are wonderful. It’s just me and the dog (or sometimes just me) and a sunrise. Fall mornings at 5am are also wonderful. They are just also significantly darker. But when I’m riding my bike back from lab at 5am, even though I’m riding back in the dark and I’ve just been at work for 8 hours when normal people are supposed to be sleeping, I’m just incredibly happy. Everything is dark and empty and QUIET. It’s just me and my bike and the occasional early morning delivery van. 5am is my favorite time in the city.

 

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Quiet times

I found a post I forgot to hit publish on in my drafts, and I’ve noticed how much my life changed in a little over a year and a half, as I’ve gotten more settled into life. 

For the first time ever, my husband is out of town and I am not. Admittedly, as we have been married less than 4 months, it isn’t that surprising that it is only the first time. There are only so many business trips that he has to take in a year. Eventually, though, one was going to happen and there was going to be a break in the pace.

The routines were just getting built and settled. I like living with my husband. There are the prompts to make meals and eats. I get genuinely excited every time I see him. I like our Sunday nights where we sit on the couch and watch the Simpsons and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I fall asleep much better with someone else in the bed and it’s safer to wake up in the middle of the night and not be alone. I like the patterns of our lives. And I don’t like changes. Also, recently I’ve been watching a lot of nuclear apocalyptic television, so I’m (hopefully irrationally) worried that there will be some big disaster and we will be separated by thousands of miles and never see each other again.

Still, after the first night, it’s a good break. I come home and don’t say any words at all except for songs. I can play music out loud as loud as I want without thinking about who else is there. There’s no sport. No sports! It’s a nice quiet break.

I love my husband but I love the space. In the quiet space of all alone, I can expand and relax and fill up all the space I need to. When other people are around, I can’t. But when I have the house alone, just me and my non-judgemental dog, I can expand and relax and scatter around the house.

When there are other people around, I can’t fill up all the space I need. There’s always space taken up by the other person. Always some part of me that needs to focus on what the other person is doing and how they are doing it and what and where they are. Always adding up the math in my head. Even with people I know extremely well and feel completely safe around, it can be tiring.

I never realize how much time and thoughts it takes until I have a quiet break and realize how much less tired I am. It’s a nice quiet break.

It’s not sustainable, of course. The dishes are unwashed and the dog got taken out at 1:20am and I am not entirely certain if I remember all the steps to go to bed. Managing life on a weekly/monthly/yearly basis is so much harder. I was barely making it through and I was exhausted every day living on my own. And I love spending time with my husband and getting to come home to him and waking up next to him and getting to see him more than once a week.

I would worry more about trying to make space to be alone, but it’s accounting season soon, and the taxes will schedule in those hours for me.

Now we have been married almost 2 years. Plenty more business trips in the middle (we are just coming back from 3 weeks of seeing each other for a cumulative 48 hours). The best part though is that after almost 2 years of living together, somehow some switch has happened where almost all of the time, I can completely relax with him in the room. We’ve settled into even nicer routines and my brain has managed to accept (most of the time) that a night sitting on the couch reading separately is no more tiring than a night sitting on the couch reading alone (except when I’m not home alone I will guaranteed eat actual food for dinner, which my body appreciates. There’s some other differences too, but maybe I’ll write about them later.