I didn’t plan the day quite the way it ended up — but it turned out to be a happy accident.
I rode with my learner’s permit son to a birthday party he’d been invited to. An hour and a half later, after driving thru a deluge of pouring rain, we reached my son’s destination and he hopped out out of the car, leaving me alone.
I thought about driving back home, but it seemed a bit silly to spend six hours on the road driving back and forth, especially when it was raining. Plus, I’d no more than get home than it would be time to turn around and come back to pick The Boy up once again.
So here I was — alone — with time on my hands, with part of the morning and most of the afternoon to fill, with no one to please but myself.
At first I wasn’t quite sure what to do. The rain that came in buckets during our drive had tapered off, and though it wasn’t raining cats and dogs, it was still coming down. As I parked the car on the main walking and shopping district, I contemplated how to spend the next six hours.
And then sun broke through the clouds — literally and figuratively.
I realized there were NO errands I needed to run in this town.
There wasn’t ANY pressing work to be done.
There was NOTHING clamoring for my attention.
I was alone with nothing on my agenda.
Honestly, I felt a bit giddy.
I made a beeline for my favorite antique shop. I sat in all the chairs, I looked at the books, thumbed through the postcards, and flipped through stacks of overpriced vintage vinyl records.
I took myself out to lunch at a nice restaurant, read a book, and eavesdropped on the couple in the booth behind me who were arguing about which weekend it was that they got into an argument and weren’t speaking to each other. (Frankly, I’m not optimistic about those two.)
I lingered over an afternoon cup of coffee and people watched out the front window of the coffee shop — the bridal shower group dressed in costumes, happy grandparents with a troop of ice cream cone licking grandchildren hopped up on sugar, a fleet of gray-bearded motorcycle riders roaring down the street.
I strolled up one side of the street and down the other and visited all the frilly, girly shops that I usually skip when I’m with my guys. I smelled soap and perfume until my nose couldn’t tell the difference between lavendar, goats milk, and lime coconut.
I bought an apple at the downtown grocery story and walked over to the banks of the over-full Missouri River and watched a train roll through town.
About partway through the afternoon I realized I had no clear memory of the last time I’d spent a day “out and about” alone like this.
Sure, there are all sorts of alone times in my regular life:
- Running errands — emphasis on the “run” — crossing things off the to-do list.
- Meeting with clients or traveling with work.
- Being home alone for the day, catching up on whatever needs doing.
But a day alone?
A day with nothing on the agenda? With nothing productive to accomplish?
A day where I set out with the intention of making a fun day for myself?
I’ve got no clue how long it’s been.
Thinking back, I believe one reason last Saturday was such a great day was making a point of fussing over my happiness, like I routinely do with other people.
- Do you want a glass of tea?
- Can I get you a cup of coffee?
- Are you hungry?
- Would you like to go in this store?
- Would you like to sit down and rest for a while?
One thing’s for sure, my day alone has me thinking about how important it is to check in with yourself. To take care of yourself.
That’s why I won’t wait so long to do this again.
Only difference is next time it won’t happen by accident.
PS — And if you’re someone who routinely spends time alone, make a point of getting together with friends to enjoy exactly the opposite sort of day.