A few months ago we’d been away for the weekend. After returning on Monday, I learned of an evening lecture to be delivered by Garry Trudeau, the Canadian cartoonist, in a town about 35 miles away that same day. I phoned the box office and learned that some tickets were still available. I wanted to go, but my wife was tired from the trip and wanted to rest at home. We agreed that the other could choose their own activity, so I loaded up the car with Bruce Springsteen CDs from the library and was on the way.
We’d only moved into our big old house a couple of weeks earlier, and neither of us had spent an evening alone in it. As the sun went down and things got darker and quieter, she noticed all of the noises that this place makes. As it cooled, various things creaked. When the furnace came on, there were audible clicks and whirs. Old windows rattled in the wind. She discovered that we hadn’t purchased a house, but a symphony!
When we’re alone, we are spared the annoyance of a companion’s quirks. Those quirks and our responses to them can drown out the wilder wanderings of our own imagination. Some fortunate people are either brave in the face of perceived threats, free of flights of fancy, or too dull to even imagine such things. Depending on the circumstances, maybe you’ve met all three, maybe you’ve been each of these, or maybe you’ve worked out a way to avoid being alone.
David Alexander resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.