Little slivers of heaven

 My Sunday night was, I'm convinced, a little sliver of heaven.  Dan had a volunteer event in the evening, and I had the house to myself for a few hours.  I was recovering from a cold, so all I wanted to do was watch a little HGTV, read, catch up on blogs, and make a big salad for dinner, and honestly, I could have done all of those things if Dan had been at home.  But it's different somehow when you're alone.  You don't need to consider anyone else's timeline or feelings or desires.  I watch whatever I want on TV when I want to watch it, I eat what sounds good to me for dinner, I keep the house as quiet as I want.


I don't often have the house to myself anymore.  I work more nights than Dan does, so Dan has more than the occasional evening when he heats up a frozen meal, takes off his sweaty shoes and socks (which he would never dare to do if anyone other than our dog was in the room for fear of irreversibly offending others' senses), and turns the TV volume up as loud as he can tolerate.  I enjoy many quiet mornings alone in our house, but somehow it's not the same to lounge in pajamas and bare feet reading a magazine at six o'clock in the morning as it is at eight o'clock at night.  The mornings are for productivity, mental stimulation and invigoration, intention.  Nighttime is for relaxation and rest and indulgence--at least that is the way it works in my mind.



I suppose I could chalk my relishing my alone time in the evening to my introverted personality, but I think there is something more at play.  I may be refilling my energy tank by investing time back into myself, but I don't find my partner or other close friends and confidants a drain on my energy; that is not exactly how introversion works.  Rather, I love the lonely evenings because they feel special and extravagant and peaceful.


Perhaps I feel the need to examine this affection of mine so self-reflectively because I want to find the poetic language to make my wishes sound less selfish and cold.  If I can put just the right beautiful words and phrases to this phenomenon, it will seem normal and understandable--even spiritual.


The reason I believe these rare alone occasions fill me so is because, paradoxically, they remind me that I am not alone.  I appreciate being alone because I know Dan will soon be back, because I know that I have the deep company of loved ones a phone call or coffee date away.  This not-aloneness is not a commentary on singleness or romantic partnership but on human connection, on our ability to appreciate what we have when we take a step back and look at our worlds with gratitude.  I like making room for my husband's loud TV playing, for driving across rush hour traffic to meet friends for dinner, for working weird hours and staying far longer than I ever intended at church, for listening to God instead of always filling my prayers with racing thoughts and rambling.  The alternative is not needing to make room at all.


For brief, defined moments, absence is a wonderful thing.  I experience re-calibration, remembering that I am both more than and the sum of my relationships.

Emily Rowell Brownwork, life