Here I sit, on a balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, writing today’s blog post. It’s a beautiful day (every day I’ve been here has been breathtaking), and I am reminded again of how very blessed I am. I’ve been given the rare opportunity of a taking a month or so here, all by myself, to finish my second book. I have my husband to thank for this gift.
I’ve been here for 4 days, 7 hours and 26 minutes. That precision might sound a bit odd to you, but let me explain my painful accuracy by first asking you a question: What’s the longest stretch of time you’ve spent alone? I mean all alone, completely, utterly alone?
Four days, 7 hours and 27 minutes, here. And counting.
This is an adventure for me. Because I’m a mom, I haven’t been able to go into a bathroom at home and close the door all by myself for 22 years. Being away from home, my husband, our children, the dogs, my work there, is very different for me and is taking some getting used to.
For example, the day after I arrived (I’ve lost track; I think it was Sunday), I awoke around 7 a.m. CST and took a long walk on the beach, then ventured out to get some supplies – food, mainly, so that I can cook most of my meals. I shopped, brought the bags home and unloaded the car. That done, I glanced at my watch, sure I had spent half the day on the errands and thinking I’d better get cracking on the writing.
9:30 a.m. A bit too early for a glass of wine, I quickly concluded. I held my watch up to my ear, sure it was broken. What had seemed like half a day had actually been a little over 2 hours.
By the end of Day 2, I caught myself chasing a pelican on the beach just to have the company. I’m not sure what sound pelicans make, but by that point, I wouldn’t have cared. I actually tried the conch shell trick of holding one up to my ear and hearing some sound – any sound – emanating from within. Nothing. I suppose I should be grateful for that, come to think of it.
Day 3, I ventured out again and found a nail salon. Nice people, but none of them spoke English. I didn’t care. I told them my life story anyway. They all smiled and nodded, and that was good enough for me. Even when they talked and laughed among themselves at the stir-crazy woman sitting in the chair, I didn’t care. They were people.
I ate lunch in a restaurant, alone. Another first for me.
Today, I think I’m hitting my stride with the writing. I hope so. I’d hate to squander this time. But I have taken a break from writing the book to write this piece, and I can laugh here at how difficult it is to truly unplug from our lives, however briefly. I didn’t realize how addicted I am to my phone, television, music, conversation, schedules and deadlines. I’m addicted to busy-ness.
Writing is a funny occupation. Speaking for myself, I must have uninterrupted quiet when I do it, especially when working on a long project. I have that here at the beach, save for the gentle crash of waves on the shore and the occasional shrill cry of a seagull. I think I have finally stopped fighting the lack of busy-ness and can accomplish what I came here to do.
Just in case, though, if any of you wants to call and just chat, my cell number is 770-555- (I’m kidding).
Think about it though, how do you think you’d do with days or even weeks of solitude?
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times and the Anniston Star, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on radio shows nationwide.