Hello darkness my old friend
Thanks to an Elvis-like upper/downer combination of sinus medication and caffeine yesterday, I’m sitting here on the couch in the pre-dawn gloaming, wide awake but still exhausted. It’s not fun missing the sleep but I actually love moments like this: complete silence and calm, no TV on in the background, no phone ringing, no toy that makes noise shrieking in the other room. I’ve always craved and needed time by myself, but more so as I’ve gotten older. I’m not turning into an antisocial hermit or anything, but there are some things now that most people do as a social activity that I much prefer to do solo (Actually you people annoy the hell of me these days. Go away! Just kidding – as far you know at least. Oh, and I’m typing this without my contacts in or my glasses on, so I’m sure this will be littered with more than the usual number of errors. I see a heavy edit in this post’s future). To wit:
- Listening to music. I know part of this comes from the type of music I listen to (a batch of mainly brooding, introspective, mid tempo indie rock songs doesn’t necessarily scream “let’s get this party started”), but music has always been an intensely personal experience for me, one best consumed with headphones on in a dimly lit room. Again, it’s a genre thing. I doubt anybody comes home, dims the lights, pours a glass of wine, slips a pair of headphones on and unwinds to the Black Eyed Peas or Kid Rock. Just saying.
- Riding my bike. I know people ride with companions for different reasons, some performance-based, others social. I understand the first. The second drives me nuts. Mainly because I’ve usually just slipped into a good, solid pace and am ready for a nice long ride when I turn the corner and come across a phalanx of people on cruisers riding 5 across, taking up the whole lane/path/trail and chatting away, oblivious to their surroundings. You people know who you are. I’m glad you are out enjoying your ride, but please leave a few feet to one side so others can pass, eh?
- Driving, Especially on long-ish trips. Usually tied to #1. Fill the car with gas, grab a big cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, dial up some Springsteen, and go until you teach your destination or need gas again (or, who am I kidding, you need to get out and stretch your tired old bones). Love that. It’s like Thunder Road, only with an old dude in an import minivan. (I can see Bruce trying to write that song these days: “roll up your windows and set the cruise on 65” doesn’t have the same ring though.)
- Rainstorm. The best part of our house is a large, screened-in porch that has windows that slide open. It’s one of the best places to go and take in a good old Florida thunderstorm while contemplating your place in the world. Good lord, this sounds like the opening to a Rupert Holmes song or an e-harmony profile (I like pina coladas and taking walks in the rain). Maybe I need to get out more.
- Movie Theater. 20 years ago I would have hated going to a movie by myself. Now I usually prefer it that way, but I know a lot of people think this is nuts. What’s the big deal though? If you’re a thoughtful, respectful moviegoer you don’t talk during the movie anyway (I almost typed that sentence with a straight face. I know all of you talk during the movie – “What happened, I missed that while I was downloading the new Black Eyed Peas opus and texting my friend about going on a bike ride with 8 of my friends later.” – and you need to be quiet.) Really, this was born out of necessity for me – my wife and I don’t really share the same tastes in movies (there’s a fist fight in progress on our DVD shelf as I type this between George Romero and the evil, sinister forces of Nora Ephron) and it’s harder to get out with friends with kids, jobs, and general adulthood in the way these days, so if there’s something I really want to see in the theater I’ll just go alone. I have fun with it now and usually sit in the back dressed in a Ted Kaczynsk-style hoodie (see here) and see how many people I can freak out. Good times.
Am I the only person who is wired this way? Probably not. Am I the only one who is wired this way that doesn’t live in their parents’ basement with a cat named Mr. Fluffypants? Possibly. What say you? In the meantime, please excuse me while I go pour a glass of Pinot Noir and dial up Boom Boom Pow on the ipod.