I know everyone has anti-social tendencies some of the time, but mine border on qualifying for hermit status. People vehemently disagree when I assure them that I am indeed anti-social because I really am quite good in social situations. I can work a crowd, make the rounds, sample all the delectable snacks and have a drink or two. Indeed, I'll make my presence known, toss around some witty repartee, but just when you think you'll take the time to come over and talk to me, you'll find I've already left. I'm always the first to leave. Always.
When push comes to shove, give me an empty room with a lone book and a lamp (and hopefully a tub as well), or give me a room full of boisterous people throwing back alcohol and hooting and hollering and having the times of their lives, you're going to find me huddled under the tent I've made out of my various pillows and duvets before you'll find me leaning against a bar, shouting over the music to be heard. Rest assured, even if I were there smiling and nodding my head and looking animated, I wouldn't understand a word you were saying, my dogs would be barking (In Canada speak: my feet would be killing me), and my head would be throbbing.
I think I realized I was a homebody the year I left home after graduating from high school. I went to live in Germany for the better part of a year; as it was back in my evangelical days, I went to a bible school. I was in a dormitory sharing a room with nine other women from all over the world, and it was pretty near the end of me. I'm surprised I didn't just commit my soul to Jesus right then and there that year rather than deal with the exquisite torture of being cooped up with nine other opinionated, smelly young women who ranged from the Texan twang girl who decided she wasn't going to shave her legs or armpits the entire time in Germany so she could "fit in" to the African tribal queen (Literally, I am not kidding.) who was rife with the essence of her cuisine and flamboyant with her perceived royalty status among us innocents abroad who knew nothing of class systems or pecking odors.
I would rise at five in the morning to get the first bath of the day since there was never any hot water past seven and always a long line up. To this day, I am a gal who needs her daily bathing: it's part of the "Leah Time" routine. After my soak in the scummy tub that I would always have to spend a good five minutes divesting of pubic hair and big-haired girl clots, I would sit on the hard frigid floor of the hallway wrapped in my sleeping bag reading my bible so I could avoid the snoring, the smelling and the fighting that was going on in my boisterous room pretty much 24 hours a day.
In the afternoons when everyone was pretending to study but was really socializing and going to the local brew houses to drink, I would go for long, solitary walks (even when I had torn a ligament and was in a cast for six weeks) just so I could get some time on my own. (I would also clandestinely visit the many local bakeries and indulge in big slabs of German torte and giant mugs of coffee that I would pour copious amounts of cream and sugar into.) Yes, I gained the "freshman 15" and then some.
My family knows I need my "Leah Time" each night. After the girls are safely tucked snug in their beds, Don finds his sweet spot on the sofa downstairs for a few hours and I cloister myself in our bedroom taking the down time that is so necessary to my sanity.
It's not that I don't love people: I honestly do. I love being with my family, I love seeing my students each day, I adore sharing lunch with my colleagues, I cherish the time I have with my family and friends: it's just that I need equal amounts of time with just me, myself and I.
If the world ended tomorrow and I found myself the only person left on the planet (isn't there a Twilight Zone episode about that?), so long as there were hot water, something to read, some crossword puzzles and a cupboard full of pre-prepared food, I could carry on quite nicely. In fact, I might just consider it a vacation.
I sometimes wonder if I am alone in this need for solitude. I see so many pictures of people on facebook out and about, enjoying themselves, and I sometimes wonder if I should feel jealous of their good times, which I am sure they are having, I mean, people don't go out and party because they have to on a Friday night, do they? I assume they are not being held at gunpoint.
The thing is, I just don't feel jealous or wanting. Like my father, I am a solitary creature. I have my people time and I have my alone time. Both of those times are good. But don't try to take away my Leah Time.
|Can't you just let me be?|
PS: For those of you who are wondering if I am using this blog to let you know that our friendship is over, I am not. I love you all! I just want to thank you for not making me go to every single wonderful affair you plan, dinner date you arrange or for not taking my children to every single one of your children's birthday parties. But please keep asking me! I like to be invited: I just can't promise I'll say yes every time.