Even lovers need a holiday

Sitting here on the red chaise in my parents room with the front windows cracked open. Outside there’s are two crows calling (squawking) to one another. One of them is picking around on the front yard where we had throw some seeds over the winter, but it can’t see me staring at it from inside. This morning I woke up, exercised on the elliptical, read the news, made a cup of tea, and now I am here writing this out.

Last night we took Zsolt to the airport and he flew off to Hungary. Actually, he’s still in the process of flying to Hungary and I can only imagine his state of exhaustion. By the time he makes it to his sister’s home in Erd, he’ll have been travelling for about 24 hours on very little sleep.

This morning I woke up, exercised, made a cup of tea . . . had some yogurt, fixed the bed, read the news . . . and now I’m here writing.

Make a plan: so this is my plan. Morning will be for writing, as it should always be but often is not, and this afternoon I’ll be reading up on NLP in order to better write around the topic of coaching, mentoring and leadership. This evening I’ll gorge myself on reality television and maybe help my dad with making dinner.

Zsolt and I often separate for long periods of time. He’s from Hungary, I’m from Canada . . . so when the holidays roll around, (and considering we currently have no children) one of us generally takes off to visit family for three to four weeks at a time. And when I say, ‘one of us’ that really means I take off to visit family, and leave Zsolt alone to fend for himself.

So I cannot hold a grudge against his going away for so long this time. Particularly since he’ll be attending his grandmother’s funeral and, I imagine, helping sort out things that need sorting.

But I guess it’s been a while since we split like this . . . about 14 months since our last separation (Christmas to Canada, which lasted for five weeks.)

Zsolt is a man full of wise words. This is largely because as a child he had a book of proverbs, and tried to memorize as many as possible. And while they don’t always make sense after he translated the Hungarian version to English, this particularl expression (something, I think, that came from a movie) works well. He says to me, “Even lovers need a holiday.”

And so he is right.

This month will be focused on my world, and my projects, and my wonderful work. It’s nice to have this time, even if being away from Zsolt does feel rather bizarre.

Even lovers need a holiday. It’s okay to be away from one another, and turn the focus onto yourself. And I like that that’s okay.

But geez, I do miss him. After being together so long, I think I may have forgotten how to be alone. However, I reckon it starts with routine.

This morning I woke up, fixed the bed, made tea, had some yogurt, checked my emails, read the news, and now I’m here writing . . . and it’s going to be a lovely day.

The anxiety of going alone

There is a movement across England that promotes street parties. These parties are seen as a way to bring communities together (sorta like a twitter party – for instance, the #tellhermovement twitter party on May 5th! Plug alert!), and from what I’ve heard, they work fairly well. One friend of mine helped with a street party when a halfway house was established in her area. She said that before the kids of the home were strangers, threats to a certain degree. There was vandalism and curtain twitching and uncertainties about leaving the door unlocked. After the street party (which involved plenty of food, music and a game of ‘dunk the police officer’) these kids became kids. Kids on the street, which is what they were all along, except now people know one another. (That’s not to say curtain twitching disappears – because who doesn’t love twitching the curtain? But at least you could put a name to the face: “Oh look, that John boy is doing a handstand”.)

Last Friday was the royal wedding and across England street parties were thrown. My street remained free of any flag waving, but the city centre was hosting a large ‘street party’ in the centre square. They viewed the wedding on a jumbo screen, and afterwards celebrated with swing bands, music, games and a general ‘hanging out’ on the lawns.

Zsolt and I watched the wedding through the YouTube stream.  We started at around eleven – oh, her dress was nice, eh! – and stopped during all that singing, then picked it up again for the kiss on the balcony.  Apart from the human bits (Kate waving from outside the cathedral, Will trying to get the ring on her finger, Harry looking back as she walked down the aisle, and Will & Kate’s mixed expressions between wanting to smile, and not wanting to smile) I’d have to say the most impressive part of the day were all those hats. It was like a gallery of  pink, purple, black and beige headwear. British women own the hat.

And after the wedding I was faced with a dilemma. Should I go to the city centre street party? Zsolt was mule-like in his resolution to study (less than seven days now till his PhD defence, so can’t blame him) and I became more and more dejected that we couldn’t go downtown. There would be music and people and possibly a great selection of highly cheese memorabilia, and here we were in our flat missing the day.

Which is when I remembered my ‘do it alone’ resolution. I hate doing things alone. It’s a design flaw in my personality, initiating a solo activity (except for reading, writing, and general day-dreaming) take a momentous amount of energy. Essentially, I feel so awkward to be alone that I stop the activity before it even starts – and that was yesterday. I was stuck in my flat, mood dropping, and wishing I wasn’t such a coward.

So, I stopped being a coward. (wishes do come true!) Because if I can do big things like move countries, fight cancer and learn to drive stick (still in progress), I can certainly face a day in the park.

But, I had to give myself a goal. Goal: to find and buy souvenirs of the Will & Kate wedding to possibly give to relatives who I’m pretty sure would love them.

And suddenly it became much easier to go to a party alone. It’s a baby step, but a step nevertheless. I’m sure many people would fly solo to yesterday’s event without any anxiety, but this is just the way I work. Therefore, to help the situation, I gave myself a purpose.

Fast forward an hour and I’m wading through the paper cups, union jacks, tables, children, dancers, swing band, games, picnickers, and general celebrations of the Southampton Street Party. No names were given to the faces (this isn’t a real street party, after all, and I’m still too chronically shy to randomly introduce myself to a stranger), but it was nice to see what was happening.

But most importantly, I got over my inhibition. Okay, well, I cannot say it was entirely comfortable drifting through the scattered crowds, but a step forward is a step forward. A long time ago, way before meeting Zsolt, I spent a month in Quebec City alone. That was quite something. By the end of the month I was visiting museums, taking long walks, eating in cafes –all with pleasure instead of purpose, but that took time to learn. (A lesson which has faded, but at least it’s there to be remembered.)

I guess it’s good to remember that even when others cannot offer their support, you can still support yourself. That’s easy to forget, but important to remember. It takes a little courage too.

Hmm, there’s an Andy Warhol exhibit in Southampton that my husband doesn’t want to visit (plus he’s still studying, studying, studying). Maybe I’ll go alone this week and check it out. After all, practice makes perfect.

Relearning how to be alone

This weekend was an interesting case study. Having done a BA in psychology (with no follow up) I love to think of my experiences as personal case studies. And here is another for publication . . .

Zsolt, my wonderful husband, spent all of Saturday fixed to his keyboard pounding out thesis corrections. I spent all of Saturday with my ass fixed to the sofa, doing little else. Contrast that to Sunday where I left Zsolt and his thesis behind and headed out to Tragos to meet a friend, which was followed  by having another friend over for lunch, to finally topping off the day with a little Zsolt/Catherine Donkey Kong Country marathon.

So, time to guess – on which day did I fall into a depression?

Finding A: Getting out of the apartment is my favourite non-writing activity in England. What to do on the weekend? Get out of the apartment. Doesn’t matter if you go down the road, to the tea shop, or visit the tip – if it’s out, it’s good, and for me, typically involves family or friends.

Finding B: I need to starting being active alone. If friends are busy, if Zsolt is occupied – who’s to blame that I collapse into sulksville? Me. A hundred percent me. And that is a problem.

Anyhow, getting out is good. Being with friends is better. Sharing time with my husband is awesome. But what about being alone, acting alone? When did I stop enjoying my self? Back in highschool I used to take walks to the football field and sit by the playground, watching the kids play soccer while I picked blades of grass. Sometimes I would lay in my backyard and count the sparrows that flicked overhead. Other times I tried to shrink the clouds by projecting warm thoughts in their direction. And then at night, if no one was around, I’d wash the dishes and sing with my reflection in the window.

Now that was quality alone time. Something has happened to make even visiting the tea shop difficult when solo.  And I don’t like that.

I love being with others and I love going out. But, it’s about time I loved being alone.

Conclusion: It’s nice to realize this problem – because a problem identified is on the way to resolution. At least, it’s a start. Zsolt has a lot more thesis to go, and I don’t want to fall into that chemo depression all over again (or make him feel guilty).  For some reason ever since chemotherapy I hate to be alone, but that’s over now; time to resolve the fear. Sometimes the best option is simply to step forward, take the risk. Hopefully next weekend when Zsolt is busy working and my ass has returned to the sofa, I’ll remember this post and get up – get dressed – and GET OUT.