I need a certain amount of “alone time.” I need some time to read, to think, to ponder. Interestingly, I don’t actually have to be alone, I just have to be left alone. When I wake up in the morning I have about an hour of things I pretty much always do: shower, get ready for work, watch Chad the local weatherman tell me if I need a coat or jacket (it’s January, so I pretty much KNOW I need a coat, but it’s comforting to have him confirm my worst suspicions about what’s going on outside). I like to read the paper, eat my breakfast, put on lipstick and still, though I live with someone, we usually haven’t talked during that entire hour except perhaps to say “good morning,” and sometimes not even that. It’s not a bad thing. In fact I think it’s a good thing. Paul is almost always awake before I am, and is usually sitting in his office either doing his daily crossword puzzle or working on his translation project. It’s comfortable and companionable.
Earlier this week we went to Indianapolis for the visitation for a friend of ours who died. Afterwards we went to Three Sisters Cafe (which was absolutely, wonderful, but the way–if you go, get the Pu Pu Platter appetizer plate, which has nothing to do with a traditional pu pu platter–I think they just must like the alliterataive name. It has an assortment of different vegetarian appetizers including hummus and something with boiled whole wheat that is absolutely delicious.). I guess we were both feeling talkative, and talked in an animated way the entire dinner–me, talking about The Gargoyle, which I was in the middle of, and Paul about his classes, his translation, Brazil, and a host of other things. Earlier in my marriage I had often felt strange in a restaurant when we were not talking–I sometimes felt like a boring old couple, and I compared myself to people on their first dates who seem to be chatting away endlessly. So we often eat fairly quietly, but this time we happened to be voluable, and when we were finished the waitress asked if it would be one check or two. I don’t wear a wedding ring, and I immediately wondered if she thought we were on a “date.” That impression continued when I saw that when we left, she had gone to the side window and was watching us get in our car. I was convinced she was trying to tell whether or not we were married. I’ve since amended this idea, and think she had probably seen someone who looked like us on “America’s Most Wanted,” but either way, I decided we were interesting.
So I guess that’s what companionable silence is. Sometimes we’re silent, sometimes we’re talkative, but it always just feels like what it should be.