Sweet Solitude

Posted: May 14th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Housewife Superhero, Miss Kate, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | No Comments »

When I was an editorial slave at a health magazine in New York ages and ages ago probably long before you were even born, I got to go on a couple amazing press junkets. One was a cruise through the Caribbean.

Cunard was trying to appeal to a younger demographic by billing the typical cruise–gambling, midnight gut-busting all-you-can-hork buffets, and oldsters bobbing in the pool like some scene from Cocoon–as some sporty excursion-based boat trip with a healthy menu and lots of other young active folks who can stay up late without having to modulate their pacemakers.

So here we were–about a dozen health writers in our twenties, mostly from New York–all feeling very cynical that the cruise would offer anything than overcooked food drowned in cream sauces (it didn’t) and all very smug that, starving journalists that we were, we were able to cruise around the Caribbean eating overcooked food drowned in cream sauces for free.

We flew from New York to Florida and then to Peurto Rico where the cruise ship was docked. Rather where she was docked. (I love any excuse to call a boat “she,” don’t you?) In Puerto Rico we had some time to kill so the turbo-chipper PR gal who was chaperoning us in a desperate attempt to ensure we were ga-ga over all things Cunard, took us to a little outdoor bar on the beach.

It was warm. It was sunny. There was no traffic, towering concrete buildings, burnt peanut smells from sidewalk vendors, or homeless men sleeping in the gutter. It was quiet, except for some tropically music playing on some crappy stereo. Manhattan and all its smells, sounds and stresses was worlds away.

But as they say, you can take the New Yorker out of New York, but you can’t–well, you know the saying.

Let’s just say that the service at this little cantina wasn’t exactly snappy. And although everything about this setting would have any other mortal content–happy even–our group was collectively busting a neck vein with stress. “Where the hell are our drinks?” one guy groused. “What in fuck’s name happened to our waiter?” someone else demanded. “This is totally unacceptable. They’ve got to be kidding if they expect a tip after this.” (I happen to have committed these actual comments to memory…)

I was right along there with everyone. Well, I think I was probably willing to give the waiter a tip, but anyway it was the first time I realized that it takes at least a few days for a vacationing New Yorker to decompress enough to even realize they aren’t in their office any more. I think for some people it takes longer. (Those men you see lying on the beach screaming, “Buy! Sell!” into the waves? New Yorkers.)

Once they do relax, let’s just say how one defines “relax” certainly varies. The state of relaxation some New Yorkers eventually attain sipping umbrella drinks under a palapa, may well put, say, a Californian, into cardiac arrest.

I have a friend whose family lives in Bermuda. You’d piss your pants laughing to hear him talk about what it’s like getting off a plane from New York and into a car there, where the speed limit is 25 MPH. For him it was the cruelest form of torture.

At any rate, I’m thinking about all this as I sit on our front porch with an iced tea and a baggy full of homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. It’s in the high 70′s today and there’s a slight breeze causing my new hanging plants to waft gracefully and send out a hit of jasmine-smell every once and a while. And aside from the intermittent crackling of the baby monitor, it’s pretty quiet here. Especially because both the girls are asleep.

I should put that in italics: Both the girls are asleep.

Yes, without having to invest in the Pottery Barn Kids monogrammed kelly green leather restraint straps, it appears that Kate is actually taking a nap. (This, if you can tell, hasn’t been happening very consistently despite all my desperate entreaties to The Man Upstairs.)

This lovely calm and aloneness is strange. I’m so unaccustomed to it I need some time to settle into it. I spend the first few minutes walking around in circles like a dog trying to find the right place to lie down. Something so rare, so special, must be appreciated and savored to the fullest extent.

But how?

After wracking my brain to determine what I need to do–no wait, what I want to do with this time–the realization washes over me like a warm gulp of bourbon.

I’m going to sit here with my feet propped up on the wicker chair, stare out across the porch, and do absolutely nothing.


No Comments »

Leave a Reply