The record-breaking heat of Arizona convinced me to come to Chicago, anticipating a two- week stay which morphed to almost twelve. The remarkably pleasant weather was a bonus, allowing all of us freedom to be outdoors together, visit parks and patio restaurants and bars (with masks and distancing, of course), and reconnect with friends and family. It is now October, and seasonal changes are evident as Chicago cools toward winter and Arizona cools towards tolerable. Today the weather is perfect autumn in the Midwest. If it weren’t for my niece’s wedding in Arizona this coming weekend, I would stay a while longer.
Mike came to Chicago to assist YD and her partner-with-not-yet-chosen-moniker (PWNYCM) with renovations in their new condo. He has kept busy with tasks from screwing in light bulbs to renovating a mudroom. Me, I have kept busy finding myself. My “she-shed” in an alcove by the garden-level window in the basement was the perfect setting. In this cozy niche I sewed quilt squares and mended clothes for YD, I arranged and recorded music for virtual church, I conducted live and virtual piano lessons, and I wrote. When needing a break, I retired to the easy chair to read or listen to podcasts. The back deck offered space for some of the above while getting to know the other residents of the building. Even when the air chilled, a wool blanket provided enough warmth for me to continue to enjoy the patio. The neighborhood provided beautiful sites to enjoy while walking. Physical Therapy was conveniently located across the street. And to be useful, I cooked a few meals.
For approximately three weeks, I was single when Mike returned to Arizona to attend to tasks there. This was certainly not the first time apart. Mike traveled often when the kids were young. The difference was that there were kids involved so responsibilities kept me busy.
Here is what I discovered:
“. . . [I’m okay alone. I don’t always want to answer a question about why I’m coughing if I’m coughing. I like falling into Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk without being asked what am I reading. I appreciate not being interrupted in the middle of thinking about nothing. . . I like cooking or not, making the bed or not, weeding or not. Watching movies until three A.M. and no one the wiser. Watching movies on a spring day and no one the wiser. To say nothing of the naps.”
Specific to me, I like going to bed with all the lights off, not distracted by lights or TV in the other room. I like getting showered and dressed in the morning, not tip-toing around Mike who will get up much later. I enjoy walking to town, stopping for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee without running it by Mike, who will probably decline. You readers know what I mean. We women are programmed to attend to others to the extent that we ignore and may even be unaware of our own preferences. And so, paraphrasing Abigail Thomas:
[I love Mike] I can sometimes hold these two truths in my head at once: [I enjoy being single but I want to have Mike in my life.]
As I go home today, I seek to recreate the fulfilling freedom of singlehood that I enjoyed in Chicago. Nothing holds me back except myself.