You know when you start doing something and at first it feels strange, but then you grow to love it? You look around and wonder if you’re the only weirdo doing this? You even feel guilty for liking it so much, but can’t seem to stop. Here’s how my new guilty pleasure went down this week…
I rented this adorable Connecticut cottage through Air B&B. The hostess, an attractive blond woman, let me in. I entered and couldn’t help smile. It was perfect — charming and rustic with wood floors and made-for-one (okay, maybe two) coziness. I wanted to dance a jig. This would be my new writing home for the next few days.
She pointed out the comfortable living area and how to work the remotes. She showed me where to find silverware in the immaculate kitchen. The bathroom was supplied with scented soaps. The bed looked plump and lush. There were gardens outside and even a sweet golden lab named “Daisy” who greeted me when I arrived, toy in mouth. I was in heaven.
Yes, you guessed it. My new guilty pleasure is… stepping out of my life.
Is it possible to love your husband and kids, but desperately crave alone time, for like…days? Is it possible to only find focus when you’re away from the constant chores, ringing of the doorbell, housework piling up, and barking of the dog? For me, the answer seems to be yes.
Maybe because I never had a career that involved business travel (okay, I never really had a career, period, just a bunch of low-level corporate jobs), I never got that sense of autonomy other women take for granted. I was engaged at 22 and married at 23. For the first time in 61 years, I feel…well, untethered. But I like it.
I hear women my age talk of the lonely empty nest. And although I don’t have a completely kid-free zone yet, I do have a busy, always working, basically-off-the-payroll son at home. I get the idea. But this is the weird thing. I like this new phase. I find this new chapter invigorating.
Like a construction site in Manhattan with wooden barriers built around it, I sense a lot going on inside. Walls are coming down and new wiring’s being installed. And somehow needing solitude is part of this process. There’s a shedding of roles happening…but to what end? I don’t know.
As women we’re hard-wired to focus on others — to feed, shelter, and soothe them. And these are lovely, noble qualities, but at some point in life (usually later) many females feel a need to focus on themselves. As Kristen Bell, wife of well-known pastor Rob Bell once said…
“I’m sick of being good. Now I want to be free.”
To that end, I’ve been exploring local Air B&B’s as gifts to myself. I don’t even mind having a dinner here and there alone. I go early and sit off by the side. I love people watching while sipping my Prosecco. I write at the library during the day. I take walks. I eat what I want for dinner and that means anything goes. Ice cream with sprinkles? Sure! A plate of cheese and crackers with raspberries? Why not? (I hear the gasps of my son and husband now).
And yes, I know how incredibly lucky I am. Independence is not a choice for many women on this planet, including those in my own country. Forget women of past generations who were constrained in ways I can’t imagine.
I’m also lucky to have a husband who’s always encouraged latitude. Randy and I give each other space and I’m grateful. My kids are more or less launched. There’s nothing but open horizon.
It’s a funny time of life – both good and bad. There are losses — youth and now even middle age come to mind — but there are also incredible insights and openness not found in any other stage. We can be whom we want. We’ve earned that right.
So here I am. And even though they’re fun, I had to get used to these solo forays. I had to learn to navigate the world as a “single woman,” even part-time. And yet I can’t deny this growing sense of confidence and empowerment. I have only myself to answer to, and I like that.
Before leaving, the Air B&B hostess hands me the key to the cottage, my little home for the next few days. “Let me know if you need anything,” she says. “I will,” I reply. She closes the door behind her.
I look around and smile.
Does anyone else feel this great need for solitude sometimes, for re-discovering yourself? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you.