The day after Liz and David’s wedding, we cleaned-up, congratulated ourselves about how well everything had gone, and played a few rounds of disc golf. (I provided comic relief for the real players.) Monday morning, Lauren Cottrell Banner and I drove north along the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, up the west side of Susquehanna River, and through the soft green mountains of Pennsylvania.
After we returned to my home in the Finger Lakes, Lauren stayed a few more days. Friends visited. We cooked and laughed and went for walks.
Thursday afternoon, I took Lauren to the airport. After a morning of thunder and lightning, flashing yellow “canceled flight” signs filled the tiny Tompkins County Airport arrival/departure board. I looked for Lauren’s flight while she checked in. Bingo. On time. She was flying west to southern California. Only eastbound flights were canceled by the storms.
We kissed goodbye—on the lips. I inhaled her toothpaste breath. Then we held each other a long time, not knowing when we’d meet again. She headed for Santa Monica to be with her beloved husband, the ocean, and her glorious garden. I headed home to deafening silence.
I don’t mind living alone. I’ve learned how by now. My Lab Willow is a sweet companion, even if I don’t love all her habits. That morning before breakfast, I found her in the front yard with a dead rabbit, head missing, already ingested. She licked her lips with delight, but obeyed my command and left the rabbit to come inside. I do not kiss her on the mouth.
Still, the transition to solitude surprised me even though it’s been five years since Vic’s death. I wanted noisy laughter and the joy of working with my sons and friends. I wanted to be with people and dance. My world felt too quiet.
Waves of longing came for Vic and the life we lived. I felt lost and discouraged, but also knew that by tomorrow I’d savor the solitude. The garden needed weeding, my body needed rest, and my satisfying writing work waited for me at my desk.
That evening, I let Vic’s absence settle into my bones, I sat on the deck with Willow and watched the sunset. I took photos of flowers in evening light. Bluebirds fed their brood, and red-breasted grosbeaks sang their song. I picked vegetables from the garden and admired how the plants had grown. Gold and purple finches ate at the bird feeder, and hummingbirds sipped fresh sugar water. I made an organic salad for dinner and read myself to sleep.
By morning, I felt grateful for a quiet day to meditate and write down my rich memories. A writer couldn’t ask for more.
Do you have too little or too much solitude? How do you carve out time alone for creativity? To read more about the wedding, see The Day Before the Wedding and Sunshine on the Wedding. For more about accepting solitude, see Coming Home.