Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cheap date

Last Monday, I saw Jeff Mangum in concert with Nick and my dear friend Matt (the show left me floating, but Michelle said it best here). Wednesday, I met up with former coworkers for happy hour. (How is it that I always order the sharing appetizer everyone hates? Last time, it was the olive sampler platter, a mosaic of olives like glossy beads ranging from pale and buttery to purple and sharp. My companions wouldn't go near 'em. This time, it was deviled eggs made with shallot and truffle oil and topped with smoky dark salt. I feel like a normal person's reaction would be to inhale these! but once again they were boycotted.) Friday, our friends Rebecca and Isaac had us over for dinner and their 2 year old stacked plastic fruit and tiny cups in my lap and I said thank you oh THANK you thank you for the felt tomato slice. They are the kind of people who make you feel hopeful about the world. Saturday, I had a whole pile of lady friends over to my house for a potluck and we emptied wine bottles all afternoon. As I finally flopped onto the covers next to Nick that night, I was stupendously exhausted, anxious almost. "Oh god, am I becoming an introvert?" Nick, in a neutral but confident tone: "No."

Sunday he left early to go to Indiana for the day, and I slept laaaate, until I could see all the windows in the living room burning flashpot bright through the open bedroom door. I broke a breadstick in half and heated it up directly on the microwave tray for ten seconds, then held it between my molars like a stogey as I prepared my coffee. I rolled out my green mat and practiced yoga, my hips popping, my shoulders grinding like they're made of fine grit sandpaper. It was winter-warm out so I ran some errands by bike. A fleet of sleds caught my eye outside a vintage shop and I went in a browsed luxuriously slowly for what must have been an hour. The trip produced a pair of green loafers and a '60s madras blouse with a smart little squared off collar. I suuuper don't need more shoes but it's always a thrill to find good vintage shoes that fit, seeing as how ladies of yore just didn't seem to have feets in my size. Except maybe Olive Oyl.

Back at home I carved off a slice of the little loaf of dark bread Kinzie's husband sent with her Saturday night. I topped it with fava beans, feta, and black pepper and toasted it. Normal winter chill set had set in but I had to set out for a training run, my first one at the pace I'd like to keep for the half marathon in May. As I ran I wrote eulogies for loved ones in my head, one of those odd, dark habits of mine. We should have funerals for ourselves in healthy middle age, why save the moving tributes for when our beloveds can never hear them?  I was happy to see Nick when he got back that night, but was...almost sad? that my cozy near-silent date with myself had come to a close.

The president's second inauguration had me reflecting back to when he was first sworn in. It was exciting, the first time in my voting life where my guy won. I went back and found I'd written this, exactly four years ago:

Something weird has happened in Athens. I've sort of fallen in love with being by myself.

When you're in a relationship for a long time, you get swept up in collective thinking. You haven't really done something until you've told your partner about it. Do we behave the way we are, or do we perform what people expect of us? Being in a new place, then, can be as freeing as it is frightening. Who am I without my context?

Am I someone who makes an elaborate pancake brunch for myself, drinks an entire pot of coffee, and lights sparklers while Barack Obama takes the oath of the presidency? Yes. Yes I am.

Sounds about right. I'm not introverted, but sometimes I need a day spent in restorative, productive silence. With coffee.


  1. Oh my god I'm famous.

    ... or maybe my husband's bread is. But I'll take one for the team. (Thanks for having us over. I like you a whole lot.)

  2. I love solo days too. Partners and friends are nice, but sometimes you just want to be completely unbeholden (?) to anyone else's schedule or ideas about what constitutes a proper lunch or acceptable amount of coffee.

  3. Jeff Mangum is coming to my town 10 DAYS after I leave it forever and ever. Gnashing of teeth and rending of garments!

  4. "Being in a new place, then, can be as freeing as it is frightening. Who am I without my context?" ... You were wise four years ago.