Sunday, October 16, 2005
I used to fantasize about Time Alone when I didn't have any. How I'd spend hours reading, studying Latin verb forms, meditating, teaching myself astrology and music theory; how I'd get to watch obscure foreign films and listen to music no one else liked to my heart's content. How I could play guitar and experiment with fingerstyle with no one asking to hold my axe or if they could show me something they'd learned. All the stuff my busy social schedule never allowed as I made time for single and coupled friends and family and parties would one day be possible...
Now I've nearly achieved The Isolation and it's a big adjustment. Cha and I go out together with friends perhaps once a month. I see friends outside of that perhaps twice a month, maybe less. I see my family as rarely as possible. The majority of our weekends are spent together alone, and because of her normal work schedule and my abnormal one, our "weekends" are only Friday night and Saturday. I stay up until 3am and get up at 10, she goes to bed at 11 and gets up at 7. She has work friends to hang out with, I don't.
I'm not complaining. All through my 20s I was an inveterate barfly. Well into my 30s we were busy juggling social obligations. I've had enough of a social life to satisfy most folks. It's a financial drag and takes away from other priorities. But it's still an adjustment. Almost everyone we know has babies. Our friends have been great about continuing to include us in their lives despite this fact, but not having children isolates us from those who do. We of course have friends who don't have kids, but they're talking about broods as an inevitability now. I know childless couples in their 40s and 50s--but only a few. ALL of them are fucking cooky. I wonder at the cause of the cookiness? Is it that childlessness isolates them and this isolation leads them down the road to Oz? Or is this merely latent cookiness that pre-exists the decision not to have kids which continues to emerge through the years? (Cha and I have such cookiness in spades.)
Ironically, social isolation causes me to avoid opportunities to escape it. If someone calls and wants to go to karaoke or to NYC or to DC for the day, I'm apt to think "I really want to finish that Umberto Eco novel" and beg off. I cherish the isolation--I can watch 6-hour Bergman TV series from Netflix between midnight and 3am, but not if I'm out drinking beer or playing boardgames. I'm content to send emails or talk on the phone or leave 'blog comments now. Actually being around people has become a chore.
Even at work I'm isolated (by choice)--but at least three times a week I get cornered by Aunty Clod or Eskimo, who will stop at my desk and bore me to tears for long stretches, both of whom are perhaps synchronistically sent as warnings, because both of these people are emblematic of The Isolationist in full flower. One is almost completely socially inept and unaware to the point of gracelessness. The other is mean-spirited and self-absorbed to the point of grotesqueness. Each is tragically lonely. I'm fascinated by them in the way a heavy drinker is fascinated by a drunk who has bottomed out. There but for the grace of...
I could with a phone call per week end The Isolation. We could have dinner with any number of friends at any time. I could be at the bar with a gang every Saturday, or at someone's house.
Update: I'm here at the Liberry with no student assistant today and the phone just rang. A high-pitched voice asked in bad English accent if I had 30 Days in the Samarkind Desert with the Duchess of Kent by A.E.J. Eliot, O.B.E.. Of course it was Julio, and of course we're off to dine with him and Yo! Adrienne at Bangkok Place shortly after I get off work this eve. And Friday it appears we're off to DC; Julio has a friend who does restoration work at The National Gallery and we're going into the belly of the beast to snoop around. He took me into the San Fran museum similarly in 2000, saying I was his "colleague from back East." I was able to apply a delicate brushstroke to a large Rennaissance canvas by a student of DaVinci's before the varnish was replaced.