I blinked awake from my comatose nap Sunday afternoon, unsure if it was daylight or twilight. The wind blew a hint of Fall air through my open window, and I breathed it in, both hopeful and sad- wanting to welcome autumn from outside, but wishing I had someone to welcome it with.
It’s safe to assume I was coming down from a church high. Between services and lunch, I had spent five hours smiling, laughing, and praying with people who I’ve come to think of as my family. I felt the pang of waking up at home alone more sharply in contrast to the laughter that filled my morning.
Three hours earlier, as my little dog and I curled up for our customary Sunday afternoon nap, I began praying. I prayed until my prayers turned to thoughts and thoughts, sinking through my pillow, pulled me into dreams.
And when I woke up,
“……Tonight I don’t want to be alone.”
I stared out the window for a minute, watching the sky fade from blue to periwinkle, and told myself to quit feeling sorry and take Bella for a walk.
Disentangling from the nest I had made, I pulled on the first t-shirt and pair of shorts my hands touched (I only turn on the light when I have to), and headed out the door.
Let me paint you a picture:
I had just woken up from a nap, dressed in the dark, and although I didn’t check the mirror I’m sure there was mascara under my eyes, I was wearing pink shorts topped off with a red shirt, and probably had grease stains on my legs and arms.
(I don’t know where the grease stains come from. I always seems to have them and can never tell if it’s that or I’m bruised, but I’ve given up scrubbing.)
Suffice it to say my singular goal was to get myself out of the house, and I neither thought nor cared about my clothes or hair or the mysterious grease stains on my face. I wasn’t going to the park, my usual route, but followed the sidewalk from my house instead.
My goal when running and biking is to get myself almost lost. For the thrill of it. But on this walk, I wanted a leisurely loop chatting with my sister on the phone as Bella sniffed something other than the carpet. I walked a route I have never been before, and at the back end of my loop, found myself wishing very much that I had noticed before now my get-up of red on pink.
I surveyed the figure stooping over his mailbox ahead and absentmindedly decided he was a musician (this is East Nashville). Trying to appear casual and unremarkable in my red shirt that screamed, “Lions and Tigers, the Fair, Oh My!” I counted the houses leading up to his mailbox, determining which bushes were best suited for a nose dive to make me disappear.
“Hey!” he said, and I wondered if it was more realistic to pretend to be blind or deaf or invisible.
I pressed pause and pulled my earphones out, cutting Harry Potter off mid sentence.
(This could explain my immediate reaction of wishing for invisibility. I tend to get lost in Hogwarts.)
“Hey!” I replied, as Hogwarts slipped away and my mind planted itself back on the sidewalk under my feet, walking toward the very real person in front of me.
We exchanged where-are-you-froms (he was from here) and what-do-you-dos (grow churches) and quickly jumped from formal pleasantries to no-way-you-toos?!.
My neighbor and I talked around the block and back to his front porch swing, where we shared more of life and friends and my woeful knowledge of sports, and as my heart swelled with happiness, I realized something.
The last thing I thought before I locked the door to my house was,
“I wish I wasn’t alone.”
And there I sat an hour later, across from a new friend on the same street.
I am happy here. I am so happy, but some nights when the approaching Fall air feels just right, or I’m staring into the eyes of a doe in the park, I feel how beautiful life is. It’s a kind of beauty I don’t want to keep to myself.
They say God works in mysterious ways, but mostly, I’ve learned, I just need to get out of bed and he’s pretty obvious after that. Every new person we meet brings stories to our lives, and I told my neighbor I’m thankful for this story of a not so lonely Sunday night.
We said goodnight and I smiled a whispered “thank you” to the sky, knowing I’m never truly alone.