The Joy of Solitude


“When I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.” ~ Mary Oliver

The Husband and I have a very good relationship. I’m not sure we’ve ever had what others would consider arguments. We’ve had disagreements. We’ve had dinners that were a little strained. We’ve had discussions where both parties were a little tearful. But in the five years of marriage, we haven’t had a “slamming doors, yelling on the top of our lungs” fight. I think this is because we know how to discuss things and I know when to walk away.

Medieval writers would say I have a melancholic temperament. I’m not as easily hurt as I used to be but that tendency is still there. I live inside my head a lot of the time and I have an intense need for solitude. It’s hard to have solitude in a single-wide trailer.

There are those who would say, “Suzanna, don’t you stay at home most days? Doesn’t your husband work? Don’t you have solitude then?”

Yes and no. I have solitude in that I am alone. However, before we moved, I didn’t have solitude in a space I could consider mine. There was always something of the Husband close at hand and there were constant reminders that there was no space that was truly mine*. I came to feel as if I was suffocating.

That was when I took my Pawleys Island trip. I needed to go off, be by myself, and be in a room that, other than the furniture, contained only my things.

When I got back, The Husband and I talked things out. We agreed that it was essential that we find a bigger home, somewhere I could have an office. A room where The Husband could only enter by direct invitation.

Perhaps this sounds a little extreme. Perhaps this sounds as if I’m being unreasonable. But I don’t think so. Everyone deserves a place of their own. They deserve a place where they can feel like themselves and where they can express themselves in safety.

I love my husband. If he were to not come home this evening, it would be the most devastating thing in my life. It would be a pain that would eclipse the sun. However, I cannot write if I am surrounded by someone else. If everywhere I look, I see someone else. I cannot write, I cannot create, if I feel as if I’m being smothered by someone else’s life.

A Room of My OwnAs I type this out, I am sitting in a small room. From behind my right shoulder, sunlight pours through a window. The walls are covered in a fresh coat of pale lavender called “Hazy Purple”. A bookcase to my left holds a few personal items I’ve unpacked and a burning scented candle**. On my desk, to the right of my laptop, my black kitten Ignatius snoozes in his pink cat bed. A fabric covered cork board awaits quotes and ideas to stud it and the rest of the walls beg for color and art and interest. In the days to come, I will fill them.

This is a room of my own. This is a place where I can create. And I am content. I can revel in the joy of solitude.

*The Husband has a lot of National Guard gear, which he stored in the same small room where I tried to work. And he developed the very distressing tendency of boxing up my things and moving them without telling me. He meant well. He was just trying to make space. But there’s nothing more jarring than looking for something right where you knew you left it and only finding someone else’s stuff.

**Yankee Candle’s “Greenhouse” fragrance. It reminds me of this little tunnel created by bushes that I loved to sit in as a child.

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