The far side of our apartment looks out over a quiet courtyard off Central Park West and during the summer months, the staff bring patio furniture out there as a convenience for residents. Mr. Magpie and I have talked about having a cocktail or al fresco dinner on the patio dozens of times, but it’s never come to fruition — mini needs her dinner, or it’s too hot, or dinner that night requires too many dishes and accoutrements to transport, or we forget. I suppose our fellow residents run into the same issues because the courtyard and its patio furniture remain almost invariably empty — save for one elderly man who sits out there with a book most afternoons. Mr. Magpie and I have talked about this gentleman in admiring, somewhat schmaltzy tones for weeks. We’re easily moved as a general proposition, but something about his solitary bookworminess resonates with us. Maybe it’s because we’re new parents and it feels as though our time is never our own, but the vision of his peaceful sequestration elicits a deep and abiding sense of longing.
I joined this gentleman last Wednesday with my lunch and my Kindle. I waved hello, but he was too engrossed in his book to notice–and that made me happy, too, as my presence did not encroach on his alone time ritual. We sat in parallel play, ten feet from one another, reading in isolation, recharging our batteries. I left an hour later on a cloud, feeling as though I’d just left a day at the spa. It dawned on me that though I occasionally run around the corner for a glass of wine or latte and an hour of Kindle time by myself, it is exceptionally rare for me to be outside of my apartment in New York in true silence, untouched and unbothered by anyone else. The cafes are busy, full of interesting people and bizarre happenings, and I can easily pass an hour in one of them and only turn a few pages, as my eyes trail after those around me or my ears tune into an adjacent conversation. (Ahem.) There are usually physical interactions, too — switching seats and shuffling and scooting in — “Oh, is someone using this?” “Excuse me, can I just grab that off your table?” “Miss, do you mind moving down a seat so I can sit here with my friend?”
This hour was different. It was deeply peaceful. The courtyard is startlingly quiet despite the traffic just feet away; the hum of HVAC units serves as a kind of calming white noise. (#Onlyinmanhattan.) The apprehension that I could sit, uninterrupted, for an hour, felt like a revelation. I was alone, out of doors and unbridled in any way. Sweet seclusion. I realized this, too, is how I charge my batteries, and that I need to do it more often.
How do you find alone time?
+Into this top — stripes and tassels! And a sale price tag, too!
+Also love this blouson sweatshirt. Great color, great shape. But HOW can you turn down this $15 tunic sweatshirt in that oatmeal color?! I want to wear that with leggings and my Gucci loafers for max comfort this fall…
+Loved your reactions to my post on parenting expectations vs. reality.
+Would you categorize alone time as “wellness”? I’m scared of and confused by that word now…