I’m currently alone.
I feel adrift. There are no dishes to be done, nothing to straighten, no food to pack for lunches, no bottles to fill, no socks to sort, no beds to make.
Friends, I went into town (I’m in Aspen for work), and I just wandered. By myself. I went for a hike, talked on the phone to an old friend, and listened to music from my youth (Portishead, Tricky, Massive Attack, all of which made me feel somewhat foolish, a little like I was trying too hard), took a swim, got lunch and read the paper, answered some work emails, took a long shower, read a little of my book (the excellent Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning).
No one needs me right now. And someone always needs me.
I wish I could say it felt awesome but I feel strange and out-of-sorts.
I’m currently watching Storage Wars in a hotel room by myself and feeling guilty that I’m wasting this precious alone time with terrible reality TV. That Nat is doing everything at home while I do nothing. I keep seeing Amazon alerts on my phone of things he is ordering to keep the family afloat: Diapers (did I really leave them without enough diapers? What kind of terrible mother am I?). LEGOS. Episodes of Wonder Pets.
Shouldn’t I be sorting my Google Photos and arranging them into adorable photo books of my children or something? Writing what I’ve always wanted to write if I had time?
Instead, I’m looking at photos of my kids and family and missing them. Feeling guilty I’m not really working (I mean, I guess going to a conference is considered “work” but what about the work I’m leaving behind?).
I will say I did feel positively giddy with only packing for myself. One bag. It was so very liberating. And light.
And a little bit lonely.
I try to keep the light burning of who I was before kids, but I feel it slowly fading. I thought a trip away would give that little flame some much needed oxygen. But what if it it’s over? What if I’m just a boring person who gets to go to beautiful Aspen for work and spends that time looking at what I can buy with my checking rewards points for upcoming birthday parties (and also feeling super smart I had that idea?).
Yo, one more thing: There are so many women with crazy plastic surgery in Aspen. It’s head-turning. I saw about 10 women who looked exactly like fish. I mean, I live in New Jersey and I’ve never seen anything like this. I asked the driver of the hotel what was up and he said, “Oh, they are all wives of rich men who live in LA but have second homes here.”
Their faces made me so sad. So much effort and attention paid to something that just makes you look alien and strange. But is looking alien and strange better than looking saggy and tired? (I’m worried the answer is “Yes.”)
If I really let myself think about the horror that is getting old, I would never get out of bed.