Friday, August 05, 2016

Satisfactory Solitude

Jon, Brigid, and Seamus have all been away in Germany, at Osterloh, a friend's retreat center outside of Munich. They went with a group from Charlottesville and are attending a workshop on improvisation. (And got to spend a day in Salzburg and attend a Mozart concert and also hike in the Alps; I'm super jealous!) Meanwhile, Ian and Grace no longer live at home and are busy living their lives. (Although Ian pops in from time to time to do laundry and discuss our mutual obsession, the 2016 election.)

The point is, I've been living alone for an entire week. This is the first time I've been alone for more than a day or two since I was twenty-two! Last week, when I said I was about to embark on a week of cleaning and was really excited about it, I was referring to how I planned to spend the week on my own, although I didn't feel it was prudent to announce to the internet that I'd be alone in my house. They return today and I'll be happy to see them, and can't wait to hear about their adventures, but I enjoyed this week of solitude.

What did I do with the time? I cleaned and I cleaned, although I didn't get nearly as much done as I'd planned. I didn't take any time off work, so I had only the weekend and the evenings. I thought I would turn out the entire house and scrub into every crack and corner. In reality, I thoroughly cleaned the refrigerator and scrubbed the kitchen garbage pail and then took it outside and blasted it with the hose for good measure. I also washed the kitchen floor and did a lot of picking things up and putting them away. I've already mostly completed the Kon Mari method, so there wasn't really much clutter to deal with, but even those things that "spark joy" tend to get scattered about the house. (I need to write a post about the Kon Mari experience which turned out to be as much about self-discovery as it did about tidying.)

We had an empty dresser in the girls' old room. It's dangerous to keep empty furniture in your house because it tends to become a receptacle for stuff you don't want to deal with. On Saturday morning, I was inspired to appropriate it for my own clothes and get rid of my dresser which I've always disliked and which is too big for our bedroom anyway. I gave the old dresser to Grace. Jon is going to roll his eyes when he sees that I got rid of a large piece of furniture while he was away. The way he sees it, every time his back is turned, I throw something else away, but in my opinion, excess stuff is a source of stress and unhappiness. We don't see eye-to-eye on this.

It's the huge expanse of sky that makes this puzzle so hard.

In addition to the cleaning, I spent the week happily enjoying my own quiet pursuits. Mainly reading, knitting, watching the Great British Bake Off on PBS, and working on the impossible jigsaw puzzle. The dogs also need a considerable amount of attention. I had this idea that a week alone with me would help Phoebe to learn better behavior. I can see that she looks up to me - I am the alpha bitch in this house after all - and we got along better than we do when the whole family is home. Anyway, I was busy every minute of this week and never bored or lonely.

I feel a bit selfish, reveling in solitude like this. It is so nice to come home to a house that is exactly as it was when I left in the morning. (Except for the dogs inexplicably tearing down the living room curtains one day.) I liked not having to cook if I didn't feel like it. There were almost no dishes to wash, very little laundry, no jostling for time in the shower, no empty beer bottles to gather, no clothes tossed all over the bedroom floor.

As you are going to see in the coming months, I have cornered the market for selfishness in 2016. I don't think I'm going to regret it though. If you had a week to yourself, how would you spend it?


  1. I'm guessing my week alone would look a heck of a lot like yours (minus the dogs). Sounds heavenly!

  2. Oh, you spent it PERFECTLY. From the puzzle to the sorting your household and just enjoying the peace and quiet. Sounds restorative. I need to give my tribe the boot and try this.
    No regrets, you weren't selfish--they all had a great time, too, right?

  3. I HAD a full week like that in April and did not cook once. I lived off of bread & cheese except for one evening when I treated myself to dinner out. I also recently had an entire weekend to myself in June, where I did exactly the same thing - bread & cheese for dinner, cleaned up the house somewhat and then sat and read a book. It's glorious. I highly recommend Treat Yo Self time to everyone.

  4. Anybody who engages in housecleaning while alone for a week is definitely not selfish.

    You inspired me. For the past two weeks our youngest child has been away at camp, so it's been just me during the day. She is coming home later today. Yesterday I read your post, then went to my daughter's room to look for her library books that are due. I ended up attacking her room, spending about two hours cleaning up the dust and mess. (I had warned her that I had the right to do that while she was away.) We'll see if she appreciates it.

    1. Ha ha! I forgot to mention, one of the first things I did was find my son's unreturned library books and take them back. I guess prompt return of library materials is not a teen priority.

  5. "I am the alpha bitch in this house..."

    That may be the greatest thing I've read today.

    If I had a week with no work and no one at home, I would totally tear my house apart.

    1. I have to give credit to my friend Kristin for coining that term, although she used it to refer to her dog and not herself.