I’ve never tried to write with someone else in the room before. It is proving to be a unique experience. I generally write when I am alone. Not always completely alone. I often write in my office, which is in the shop, with all its many comings and goings. Before I came here, I would often write in studio. While I share my studio with fourteen other students, I would usually be the only one there before noon on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (unless someone was still asleep under the drafting tables from the night before). Sitting here now and trying to think, and being distracted by the quiet presence of David (who will probably read this later) working on his herd of Macs next to me, I realize just how often I am alone.
John just popped his head in. I remember now it was he who asked me, those many weeks ago, if I ever get lonely. The answer has not changed, I am not lonely. Being by myself, even being isolated, is normal, preferred even.
My boss (my eternal boss, though she is not my boss at this moment), Sandi, once explained to me a difference between an introvert and an extrovert is where they get their energy. Extroverts draw energy from their interactions with other people. They need these interactions in order to give their world context and meaning. Introverts draw energy from within themselves, and need to retreat from the world at large in order to recharge.
After many years of sharing a five bedroom house with anywhere from four to seven other people, I finally moved into my little condo when I went to school in Lincoln. I had been living with irritable bowel syndrome since I was a child, though I was only diagnosed and medicated when I was fourteen. I refilled my prescription, small white pills taken only as needed, religiously every month for ten years. After moving in August, I went two months between refills, then six. Finally it took a year for my last bottle to run out and I didn’t refill it.
I had always been told that IBS was stress related, but I never particularly considered myself stressed. I still don’t really. Though I am an introvert, I am still naturally very sensitive to others and will do my utmost to accommodate their needs at all times. Finally living on my own I realized that I had spent my entire life with a part of my consciousness always, eternally, vigilantly, unknowingly, silently dedicated to noticing the people around me. Suddenly, there was no one else to notice. It was just me, and my cat, Isis. I no longer had to worry about leaving my dishes in the sink, taking a shower at the wrong time, choosing a television show someone else just couldn’t stand, or cleaning up some else’s spilled juice in the refrigerator. I would never have thought the difference could be so profound.
Now, after having lived alone for three years, I come here. I need my prescription again, but I do not regret it, and after having it filled have used it far less than I feared. After having lived alone for three years, I have developed a desire for something I never sought when I lived in that big house: a relationship, close and long, with another person (preferable male, single, smart, and funny).
So now I sit here and write with someone else beside me and I am aware of that presence, every click of the mouse, every tap of the foot, and I am aware of my own presence, every type of the key, every pause, every song that comes up on the music player.
It’s not so bad.