After my divorce in 2006, I learned several things about myself. First, I learned that I do not like being alone. Second, I learned that I really like and need to be alone sometimes.
Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Now that I’m married again, I’ve often struggled with that paradox. I love the companionship I have with my husband — always having a dinner partner, a movie-watching buddy and a road-trip friend, an ally, a shoulder to cry on and someone to laugh with.
But sometimes, at the end of a very long day at work, I wish I could just go home and curl up in bed — alone. That may sound harsh, but I have no doubt my husband often feels the same way. I can tell by the glazed look he gets in his eyes when he’s trying to watch a baseball game and I start asking random questions about the bathroom habits of our cats or the nuances of song choices of “American Idol” contestants.
A few weeks ago, he wanted to go to Lubbock to visit his parents, daughter and grandson. I wanted to go, too, but not on the weekend he chose. After several consecutive busy weekends of traveling and 60-hour work weeks, I was in no shape to endure the six-hour drive to West Texas. So I made the difficult decision to stay at home while my hubby made the trip alone.
On the first day of my Home Alone weekend, I tried to sleep in but couldn’t thanks to the loud demands of our cats, who like to have their breakfasts served at the same time every morning. My husband usually performs that chore, so I dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen to fill their bowls.
The dogs, hearing noise in the kitchen, decided it was time for their breakfasts, too. As I walked through the dining room on my way back to the bedroom, I felt several dozen pairs of eyes boring into my back. Turning slowly, I saw the aquarium against the wall and the hungry, accusing glares of fish who also wanted breakfast.
I spent the rest of the morning catching up on all my favorite reality TV shows I had recorded on the DVR, the ones my husband can’t stand. In the afternoon, I wandered around town, shopping for sandals and indulging in culinary delights my husband won’t eat — guacamole, snowballs, fried chicken. That evening, I curled up on the couch and watched my favorite romantic comedies on Netflix.
On Sunday morning, I was again awakened by the demands of our housemates. Later, I decided to go downtown for lunch. I went to The Gin and sat on the patio, eating corned beef and cabbage and watching families playing on the banks of Nolan Creek. It was nice out there in the warm sun, but I began to feel the first twinges of loneliness. I had missed my husband all weekend, but at that moment, I really wished he was there by my side.
The rest of the day passed very, very slowly. I watched more trashy TV programs but didn’t enjoy it as much as I had the day before. I made one more attempt to find sandals, but left after just 10 minutes in the store.
In the meantime, hubby was having a great time in Lubbock. I could hear it in his voice when he called to check in. I assured him I was doing just fine and enjoying my alone time, and I wasn’t fibbing ... mostly.
But on Sunday night, I had had enough. When he called, I begged him to come home earlier Monday than he had planned. “I miss you, the animals miss you,” I said, softly whining.
He did come home early, and I was happy to see him.
And that’s what I like about being married. My much-needed alone time is never permanent.