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Solitude is Fleeting

Updated on July 8, 2011
Jr. G.Q. Robby.
Jr. G.Q. Robby.
Princess Brianna
Princess Brianna

So I was sitting in the passenger side of the car and was chatting with my husband. At some point he asked me, well it was more of an observation, about my lack of need for human companionship. I supposed he was right, and acknowledged his comments. I used to think I needed other people but it turned out that I like other people to be around but I also much more prefer solitude.

I don’t think I suffer from any mental disorders that would prompt me to avoid social situations. I’ve been in them in my life and did quite well while there. I just don’t believe that social interaction is all there is. Opening a book and reading seems to be quite adventurous. The characters between the sheets of otherwise blank paper are exciting and interesting. One can learn a great deal from a father who can read characters out of a book, or a man whose painting displays the worst in him.

As I pondered the ability to be alone, I remember very long ago in my childhood. I was very young, probably not even 6 years old. I was outside, sitting with my brothers and playing. They went inside and I was left outside. I was alright for a brief time and then I began to panic. My brothers did not come back. I did not know why, but instead of getting up and going into the house, which would have shown a display of common sense, instead I shouted for my brothers, from my perch beside the up-turned Radio Flyer wagon we were using as a bar. “Give me a beer! Pabst Blue Ribbon!” we would say as we stomped our fist against the “bar”, sitting on the wheels as barstools. The commercial would come on the television as we were watching evening shows. It was one of those things that we are not allowed to see now, because parenting apparently got worse when we became parents.

I grew up in a family setting; brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and the matriarch, my mother’s mother. It was fun, but considering that the oldest girl cousin in my family was my ward when I would babysit them, it was clear that I was surrounded by a pack of dirt-eating, spitting, muddy boys. I wished desperately to be left alone, to be allowed to sit in silence and read, but I was not allowed. I was required to “Go outside and play with the boys” instead of being a clean, nice, and quiet young teenager. I figured they could trust a 13 year old girl to not make a mess by the sheer act of reading. I guess I figured wrong!

So, I got to the point that I would take walks. I took lots of walks around the block, around the town, wherever I could find a place to walk. I found it was the only way to be alone, to find silence, to find peace.

Then I grew up and was a member of a large organization in which I was not alone—again: The Marine Corps. I discovered that I was well-liked and even somewhat popular in basic training although I’d never been popular before. It was an unusual although not unpleasant feeling. I absorbed each moment of perceived superiority to my peers. I was not superior. I felt I was average, which was truly indicated by graduating rated at 30 of 60 girls. How much more average can a person be? Once I left basic training I was put in a nearly all-male unit. I was one of three women. I was “fresh meat” which gave me the distinction of being the one all the guys decided would be the object of their attention, affection, inappropriate advances, and all. It was fun, as 18, to have the attention of so many good looking guys. Did I mention I was not very popular before the Marines?

So, I went through life, growing up and growing older, having children of my own, five, to be exact. There went solitude, once again. I was consumed with children from 1981 through 2006. Then they all moved out. But even the solitude of husband and wife alone did not last long. I have the joy of another generation of children. My grandson and granddaughters have blessed us with child-like laughter and fun. These creatures are exhausting! The grandson lives with us, as well as two grown men, my sons. No time to concentrate, no time to think. I have no time to read my text books or to write my papers. Somehow I’m managing to keep great grades. Maybe I’m just smart? There’s a chance of that. My brothers are both smart, as was my mother, rest her soul.

But back to the beginning, I cannot wait until the fall. My husband will be going to training to improve himself, my sons will be off to college again, and my grandson will be in third grade, learning how to write in cursive and multiply. I will find solitude! I hope that their schedules coincide to allow me to have at least some hours of quiet time two or three days a week. Then I’ll be back on the top of my game.

But, here comes my grandson, asking for help with something else. I am never truly alone.


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