A week ago today, on a Friday, I treated myself to some ME time. Of course, I get to have a lot of alone time when working, especially since research and writing is basically a solitary profession. I also love my home and my bedroom, and I spend a lot of time during the evenings tinkering on anything I fancy- from a new novel to an old charm bracelet that needs a bit of polish. For anyone, these little things take up enough solitary time, devoted primarily to the fancies of the self.
But I realize, it had been quite a long time, years maybe, since I gave myself some alone time out of the house. I was constantly with friends, the boyfriend, and family every time I would sample a new resto or cafe, or when I’m out hunting for sales and bargains at malls and flea markets, or during my trips out of the city. Lately, I was always out with a bunch of people: grade school friends, bubbly girlfriends, my noisy family, etcetera, etcetera. The busy-ness of late has left me with very few indulgences, especially those which I get to do alone. I am a social creature, and I do crave the company of good friends almost all the time, but there are times when I just want to get away from everything and to witness life through my own lens.
Suddenly I found myself missing the slow days and chilly nights in Malaybalay, where I would read for hours in a quiet cafe or order my usual beef teriyaki dinner at some roadside restaurant during 8 o’clock evenings. I suddenly missed the heady, giddy thoughts of meeting that special someone at the bus stop after a few hours, and get to walk the silent streets at night while holding hands.Those have been the sweetest of times. 🙂
Pushing those romantic memories aside though, what I missed the most was my independence and anonymity. In that small provincial city, I knew only a few people. It was kind of lonely yes, but those were the most indulgent times of my life. And now that I’m back for more than a year in the city where I grew up in, I found myself missing being alone, if only for a while.
So. It was last Friday when I ventured out of the house at past 3 in the afternoon, and settled into some neat cafe downtown, bringing along two books, one a short story compilation and the other, a cheesy, schmaltzy romantic novel. I ordered a tall glass of blended lemon iced tea and linguine pesto with lots of olive oil. I ate without hurry, read my books slowly, and paused every now and then to look at the busy streets outside the cafe glass walls. I also allowed myself a few thoughts and daydreams every now and then, and to smile occasionally at the people who would walk in and out of the cafe.
It was already dusk when my phone rang. It was Carla, asking for directions. She was heading to my dentist’s clinic, where she had a late afternoon appointment. After answering her call, I left the cafe, walked a bit, and did some shopping at the nearest mall. Then my phone rang again. I told Carla I was at the mall, and would she like to join me? She was happy to; my brother who is her boyfriend had some exclusive all-boys party to attend to. So we spent the rest of the hours hunting for bargains, eating fastfood, and chatting.
That ME time really did me good, and although my good friend soon joined me after a few hours, it did not really matter. There are still so many late afternoons to look forward to. Whenever I feel the sudden need to just be by myself, I can always pack with me some new books, get holed up in a fragrant cafe, and pretend for a while that I’m visiting some far off city where I don’t know anyone.