It is a Friday night. I am alone and at home. I had four other options this evening, three of them in Kansas City. I just couldn’t do it again. Tonight would have been the third day in a row driving about 150 miles round trip – over two hours on the road. Had I gone tonight, it would have been four out of five days making the drive. Last Friday there was a trip to KC. This Sunday will be a trip to KC to hear Granddaughter Chloe sing in a wonderful choir. Wild horses couldn’t stop me from making that trip. On two other days in this short span time, I will have made two trips about half that length to meet with my Spanish teacher for class in a city halfway between here and Kansas City. Yes, I have thought about moving to KC. I am not ready yet.
Something has changed. I am here, alone by choice and I am okay. I am not lonely. At least for the moment I am not longing to be out with people. It feels good to have some time to write a post. It has been a while. In the last couple of days there have been conversations touching on the matter of solitude and community interaction. There was a long conversation with someone experiencing very many of the challenges I have just been through. We talked about the matter of living alone, the intensity of the loneliness that comes especially at first with the permanent departure of a partner of many years. Those conversations surfaced an awareness of how far I have come in my journey after Mary Ann’s death.
In the last days I have been to the ballet in KC, the Symphony in KC, a reception in KC for new subscribers to the Symphony, the local Symphony here in town preceded by a dinner, a birthday dinner in KC with a cluster of longtime friends, an Organ recital in KC, and a Chamber Music concert in KC. The exhilaration I experience when immersed in music of such good quality fills my being with joy. One lament that comes with being alone is the lack of people with whom to debrief and wind down when the concerts are over. At the birthday lunch spending time with friends of many decades was as refreshing and renewing as it always is.
The Spanish classes have been continuing. I struggle with trying to increase the plasticity of this aging brain so that I can remember and access quickly the vocabulary and forms I am learning. With that said, I am really enjoying the challenge. It helps that the preparation for the Ministry demanded multiple years of learning to read four different languages (none of which I can speak – mostly classical languages no longer in use). I don’t know if I will be able to make the transition from studying the Spanish language to actually speaking it, but I intend to try. I have now finished the reflective journal on the Camino (the Road to Santiago Pilgrimage – backpacking 500 miles) that I was reading when on Retreat at St. Francis of the Woods. It is, of course, in anticipation of that trip that I am trying to learn Spanish. Bunko night for his wife at his house last Tuesday provided a chance for a good friend and I to taste some Scotch at my house and watch the movie The Way which is an account of someone making the Pilgrimage. The movie was filmed on the actual Camino in Spain (starting in France). It is the third or fourth time I have seen the film. Both the book I just finished and the film reveal that it is not an easy walk, but every time I read about it and see the film I get more excited about the plan to walk it next fall. I ran into my Cardiologist and his wife at the coffee shop a few days ago. He is also a former parishioner. When I mentioned the trip (we talked about it at my last appointment) his immediate response again was an enthusiastic declaration that I could certainly do that trip. Last Saturday was a Travel Club meeting at which I had been invited to share the pictures and story of my trip to New Zealand and Australia last year. Returning to that adventure fueled my interest in walking the Camino.
The Spiritual Formation small group that meets for about two hours a week at my house continues to be an anchor in maintaining a healthy balance as the various threads of life weave together day by day. Just before we met yesterday morning, Mate Lawrie from Canberra, Australia called using Skype to check in on how I am doing. He is a good friend. My two children, their families and I will spend a few days together here in the area at Thanksgiving time. They help provide some stability in a world that has changed so dramatically on account of Mary Ann’s death.
Tonight I enjoyed another episode on Hulu of Doc Martin filmed in Cornwall near where Lisa and Micah and I hiked last year. The combination of the setting and the interesting characters and story line always provides great entertainment. Next will be a little reading before bed. Something has changed. It has taken some time and I am not sure exactly when it changed. I chose to be alone this evening and it has been an evening at home alone without loneliness.