Site Meter Peculiar Susceptibility: getting my feet wet

Saturday, June 30, 2007

getting my feet wet

I've been trying consciously for about a year now to figure out how to live alone with myself. I spent a fair amount of time in my own head as a child, so in that sense I'm accustomed to my own company. I read books (which seem to me to offer these congresses of minds that can in their own delicate and intricate ways be precious). I went for walks. I sat and thought silently.

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In other ways, I have never, until this year, really tried to live alone. It is an absolutely novel activity for me to endeavor to take care of myself primarily rather than other people—mom, dad, Pat, Nora, Aaron, John, Rebecca, et al et al et al—even if I didn't always do a good job of it. So. Here I am. I find for the first time that, really, there's no escaping me.

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I make myself my tea at night—mint with a dash of rose water and a dash of orange blossom water. I take walks and runs. I take baths with all manner of fancy, smelly, emollsifying ingredients. I cook meals—yes, they're big enough for two, but they're all exactly what I want to eat. I write. I read. I spend aimless hours listening to music and thinking of not much at all. It's taken a lot, though, to figure out how to be this kind to myself. I still can't trick myself into believing that I deserve it. But the good thing is that I manage to do any of it.

The other thing I've realized is essential to being alone is travel. My friend Barbara reminded me this year that forgiving people is a kind of gift to yourself (rather than to the forgivee). I've started, this year, training myself to forgive people. I built in a system of rewards. For every event, every person I can forgive, I allow myself spontaneous travel.

Most recently, I took myself to Niagara Falls. It was totally unplanned. It was through the generosity of my brother (thanks Pat!) that I went at all. (I think the exchange went something like this: Me - "Pat. I want to go to Niagara Falls." Pat - "Oh yeah? That's neat. When?" Me - "Today." Pat - "Huh?" Me - "Today. Right now. I want to leave within the hour. Can I please please please borrow your car?" Pat - "Om, okay. Remember that it needs gas.") It was amazing; I let the water mist and rush over me. I felt correct in my skin.

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And I got myself some kitsch at The Maid of the Mist Gift Shop. It's a heart-shaped porcelain necklace. It's got a little painting on it of the falls. In magenta, it says "Maggie"—the closest name I could find to my own. It's not dissimilar from the kind of necklace my father would have given to me as a child.

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