The gift of my absence

I am being very auctorial today.

Today I needed to get the road salt washed off my car, but it really wasn’t that dirty and seemed a shame to waste a good wash. So I took it to a dirt parking area next to one of my hikes, and sure enough it was filled with partially thawed ice and mud. I then spent an enjoyable hour ‘off roading’ with my little Focus, getting stuck in mud and sliding on ice, speeding up and turning circles, racing at puddles and splashing the dirty water all over the car.

The carwash I use is a drive through but there’s always high school or college kids who run a long-handled brush over the front window, the back, and tires before going through. I’ve never felt that my little, unsexy Focus got the attention it deserved. Today, though, when I pulled up to the drive through, the three guys who do a quick pre-scrub just looked at my mud covered car, and I do believe that I’ve earned a whole new level of respect.

On the way home, I stopped by to pick up a Turtle Cake from the neighborhood bakery. This chocolate cake is wonderful, though it was hard to resist the other goodies today. There’s something about playing in the mud that gets one hungry. However, the cake is my roommate’s favorite and it was for him, so I resisted the other delights. Even the little heart shaped cheesecakes dipped in dark chocolate, or the scrumptious cherry pies.

Saturday is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also my roommates 50th birthday. When we first met years and years ago, one of the things that appealed to him about me – aside from my charm and beauty, of course –was that when he mentioned his birth date, I didn’t pop up with, “Oh. You’re a Valentine’s Baby.” He thought I was being delicate, but it was really the tequila (we were introduced at a bar by a mutual friend). Cognition of holidays is the first to go when under the influence of tequila.

Through friendship to relationship to marriage through the failure of marriage and back to friendship, we’ve always celebrated both his birthday and Valentine’s Day at the same time, until we just stopped celebrating Valentine’s along with most other holidays. (I think when you’ve seen one rose velvet box of chocolates, you’ve seen then all, and Hallmark really doesn’t need any more money from us.)

We always would go out to dinner on his birthday though. But not this year. This year, my gift to my roommate on his special birthday is my absence.

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Giving absence as a gift?

We assume that the greatest gift we give each other is our presence. We believe that the more time we spend with each other, the more we must care for each other. We talk about being inseparable, or being ‘joined at the hip’, as if we’ll forget each other with time apart. Wiggle fingered, smoochy stuff. Some married couples even pride themselves on never being apart, from the day they marry until the day one dies. This is literally beyond my comprehension.

Rob, my roommate, and I share many things in common; a need for time alone is one of them. To us, solitary time isn’t a burden, it’s a gift.

Oh, it’s not that we’re unsocial. Rob has friends and the people at work, and they brought him lovely cards and gifts for his birthday. I also have family and friends, and not just in the virtual world, either, though most of my friends are scattered about the planet. No, we just need to have our quiet time alone.

Instead of dragging him out for dinner, I’m heading out on the road and giving him the place to himself (stocked with Chinese food prepared ahead of time in addition to the cake).

That’s why the car wash today, as I prepare for the road, and the gift of my absence. I have no idea where I’m going or even what direction I’ll head. I decided to follow the weather and my own inclinations …

…and a lonely impulse of delight.


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