Here’s something true that I know about myself: I am fine spending time alone. I enjoy being alone, sorting out my thoughts, thinking new ones. I always have, even as a child, I sought out solitude. I liked being with friends, when that was an option, but I was perfectly fine by myself. After we moved and changed school mid-5th grade, it seemed obvious to everyone that I was struggling with the adjustment when they saw me on my solitary walks around the school backstops and across the field. It was a rough time, some teasing, mild bullying, overall difficulty fitting it. I walked my route to escape from the other kids, but I was never alone. I was retreating into a story I was making up. I’d started writing that one at my previous school. My old teacher had cleverly mailed it through the schools to my next teacher along with my transfer paperwork.
This was around the time that my dad was in between jobs — that lasted longer than anyone expected. As a kid, I found the prospect completely terrifying; it shattered the illusion that adults had everything figured out, that they were invincible. The move back to Texas and new school was part of the new job. We’d only been in Oklahoma for three years, but we weren’t going back to Houston, we were headed to North Texas.
For some reason my odd behavior drew attention from three other students, who decided that walking looked like fun, so they started joining me. At first, I was annoyed. This was my alone time at school. But, it turns out the two boys were hilariously funny and the girl would become my absolute best friend for the rest of elementary and into junior high. It wasn’t so bad not being alone. The three of us wrote the 6th grade play together, through many fits of laughter (I don’t remember what happened to the other boy.) At home, I still had my time in my room and my evening visits with my dog in the backyard, alone, where I would tell my dog about my day and continue to work on my story. As the second oldest in a family of four girls, privacy was always at a premium.
I sit outside now with my dog, thinking about my day. Alone is restful, restorative. Earlier, we were talking about what we’d do once we’ve all had the second shot in a few weeks. I think it’s time to see some friends again. I could do with more laughter.