Thursday, May 19, 2016

One of the things I have to learn is how to live by myself.

I have never lived alone. First, there were parents; then roommates, lovers, a husband, children. It has seemed natural and sweet for the children to grow up and leave. It has seemed terribly unnatural to find myself single.

This singleness will be temporary, but its duration is uncertain. I don't know what I will do with the hours. I don't know how to avoid getting sick of myself.

As a writer, I have thrived on compression: moments carved out. The idea of having endless time is terrible, but perhaps it will be a good thing. Perhaps I'll figure out a way to make the days stay alive.

This morning, before the thunderstorms and the blackflies arrive, I'll walk down to the stream to pick fiddleheads. Then I'll begin editing a new manuscript: a biography of the poet Richard Wilbur. I'll wash the kitchen floor and start composing a short talk about the poems of Kerrin McCadden. I will cut up a pineapple. If the thunderstorms haven't arrived, I'll mow some grass or sow some some Swiss chard seeds. If the thunderstorms have arrived, I'll make tea and read Margaret Drabble's novel The Ice Age. I'll bake a potato for supper. The evening will draw in.
I can hear little clicks inside my dream.
Night drips its silver tap
down the back. 
--Anne Carson, "The Glass Essay"


Ruth said...

As one who has nearly always lived alone, it is hard to maneuver around another person in the house even when they are invited guests. That ability always seems so effortless to others when I am the guest. Strange how we structure or don't structure our days depending on our usual existence .

Carlene said...

I keep thinking of Galway Kinnell's series of poems "When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone" when I stop and consider what it means to have long, too-quiet stretches of time to fill, or not to fill. The transition to unwonted (unwanted?) alone-ness is disquieting; it's an emptiness akin to an ache, or that strange, airy feeling in one's head when one goes outside in subzero weather. I believe we become accustomed to it, a sort of thickening of the psychic skin, perhaps. We hear the ticking of the clock, and count along with it. And then we don't.

Especially #s 5 and 6...