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Thursday, January 12, 2012

I can do it... all by myself

I used to be so brave.

I think of myself at 17. I had just moved to Peterborough from Owen Sound. Every few months my ma or dad would lend me their car and I would drive to Owen Sound all by myself to see the friends I was mourning to see and to get my braces adjusted… it was about a four hour drive. Can you believe it? Just me and the road.

At around 18, I was a regular dogsitter for the awe-inspiring Roebuck family, dreaming that one day I too may be a Roebuck. I would stay in their big ol' house in the country all by myself - that house with its fifty rooms and a separate "west wing" and a porch that went on and on and on. Did I even know where all the doors were to make sure I was all locked in at night? Sure, Wilbur and Galadriel, the dachshunds, were good company. And Katya, the weimeraner, was beautiful and silly. We would all sleep in the same bed in their guest room. And yes, sometimes Carla or Marie would come along and keep me company. But sometimes they wouldn't.

Mrs. Roebuck (just kidding - I called her Jenny then too) would say to me before leaving me with her doglets, "Are you sure you're okay by yourself?"

And I would say, "Oh yah, no problem. I don’t mind it one bit."

But something happened to me between then and now. I don't do these things so eagerly and solitarily anymore.

I'm driving to P-dot by myself this weekend. That's what got me thinking about all this. A weekend with my Ma and sister. The rule is - no kids allowed and women-only. That means no Isaac watching the Backyardigans in the back of the Rondo and no Benny at the steering wheel. I'm feeling a little nervous about it. I decided to put my self-reflection hat on. What is the source of this hesitancy?

Am I less brave now? No, I think I'm more brave.

Weaker? I feel like I'm a stronger person than I was over a decade ago.

Is it because I'm less naïve, I've heard more stories, I have a more vivid imagination now that I have a child of my own? Oh yes, maybe. I picture myself driving into the lake at the Silver Lake curve. Yes, maybe my imagination is more vivid. Something happened to my imagination when my new mama hormones came along.

Is it because Ben and I are falling into the old-married-couple-camp and I'm used to having a companion almost everywhere I go? Yah, that's for sure, minus the "old" part. I'm so happy with companionship, I just prefer it. I just like having someone else around, even if we're in different rooms, even if we're just sitting beside each other watching tv, even if we don't say anything. If Benny's out of town for a weekend, I enjoy being alone a bit, but eventually I seek out Edem's company or I sleep over at Jenny and Weldy's (I still try to get some doggy cuddles in over there).

All that to say, sure, being with people all the time has made me a bit of a wimp when it comes to doing things alone. But that's a worthwhile effect of being in community. Community's great. I think it's worth seeking out and chasing down with all your might. I know, I've been known many times to shut myself into my room for some peace of mind. But overall I'd say: Two are better than one. Wait, that's not what I'd say, that's what the Lord says (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). If one falls down, one can help the other up. If two lie down together, they will keep warm [that's where Ben giggles]. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

So, solitude does not equal bravery. Solitude does not equal independence.

Quality time with my ma and sister will totally be worth the nerves involved in taking a drive down Hwy 7.

Easy peasy.

Gulp.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I get it. Since having my kidlets, I am scared by so much more. Every time it snows, I am fearful for Mark driving the highway to work. So much more is at stake.

BUT, I remember living in my dingy old basement apartment in London with Frankie and I remember drugging her up with half a kitty-tranquilizer and driving to P-dot by myself and I remember how empowering it felt. I loved having that freedom. I loved being that woman!

And now I'm a woman who COULD do that, but who certainly enjoys companionship too. My friend Brendan once said that society these days places too great a value on being able to do everything independently. Lots of folks don't feel a sense of community even amidst a neighbourhood of other homes.