“Now I am alone.”
I did not sleep well last night. My brain got all wound up and decided that it was a great time to plan a new unit or two, and my body decided that it was foolish to try to relax when we were just going to wake up sometime anyway. So this morning when everyone else was heading off on another adventure, I begged off.
I come from an all-for-one one-for-all kind of family, so staying behind was really hard. I felt terribly guilty – I kept saying, “I really want to go. It sounds like fun” – and my father, who has organized more outings that we can possibly squeeze into a week, dreamed up multiple ways to include me: “You could nap in the car” and “We can try to come back early.” Luckily, as I brushed my teeth, nearly resigned to joining in, my darling partner reminded me that I am allowed to want quiet. So here I am, alone.
When Hamlet declares “Now I am alone” the players have just left, the stage is empty, and he’s about to give his “O what a rogue” soliloquy in which, among other things, he spends a lot of time wondering what he should do. No one has murdered my father and married my mother (thank goodness!), so my “what next?” is considerably less pressing; I have spent the last hour or so letting go of my lingering guilt about staying home and wondering what on earth I should do.
I am a parent and a teacher during the time of Covid: I am rarely alone for any length of time. In fact, I cannot remember the last time that I was so thoroughly alone – it’s just me, the cat and the dog, and no one is going to interrupt for hours and hours. I’m not in my own house, so no one will call and my internal list of things that I “should” do is shockingly short. Despite that, I’ve needed about an hour of simply sitting to let go.
Now, I am alone. I’ve made a second pot of tea. I am listening to the clock tick and the birds call. Here in this quiet, in this moment of inaction, in a moment I chose for myself, my body is beginning to relax, my mind is starting to unspool. Now I am alone, to fill my time as I wish. Tonight, the players will return and I will be an enthusiastic, even participatory, audience when the stage is full and action inevitable. But for now, I am alone.