My alone time isn’t my wife’s alone time. And hers isn’t mine.
We’re both introverts. Pretty strong ones if you believe our respective Myers-Briggs Type Indicator results. And yet I’ve noticed that Adrianne tends to prefer a type of alone time that is slightly but significantly different than the one I typically crave.
When Adrianne is ordering from life’s menu of alone time options, she generally picks Alone Time with Another — for example, alone time at the kitchen table with me at 8:30 at night, typing away at her computer as she firms up her lessons for the kindergartners she’ll be teaching the next day.
I just sit there drinking a sparkling water and reading a book. Or staring into space. Or reading a book and occasionally staring into space. Or staring into space and occasionally reading a book.
That’s because I usually order Alone Time All Alone if it’s available — the kind of alone time I picture in my fantasies: being completely by myself out in nature, for instance, so far away from everything and everyone that I can’t hear a sound, that I can’t help but be re-energized. Even if I can get Alone Time All Alone only in snack form, I’ll still usually order it over anything else.
So I might step out on Adrianne, briefly, during her (our?) Alone Time with Another to sit outside on our rocking bench for a few minutes, munching on my Alone Time All Alone bar and listening to nothing but the whispering wind and the faint sounds of the occasional train in the distance.
And yet … sometimes I myself actually order Alone Time with Another. One of the most revitalizing experiences of my life happened in Canada a few winters ago, when Adrianne and I spent an entire day reading alone — together — in a snuggly, isolated lake cabin in eastern Manitoba. It was my choice (albeit an easy sell where Adrianne was concerned!).
Adrianne orders her fair share of Alone Time All Alone, too. She has it every weekday morning, in fact, as she sits at that same kitchen table around 6:00 a.m. having her breakfast, drinking her coffee, and reading a book — by herself — while she readies herself to share the day with those same squirrely kindergartners she prepared her lessons for the previous night. As she was enjoying her Alone Time with Another, of course.
We all have different alone time palates, it turns out, and our tastes fluctuate considerably based on a whole host of variables. Among them: our ingrained natural preferences as introverts, our fatigue levels, what we’ve done and who we’ve been with (or not with) during the day, the time of day, the state of our health — physical, emotional, psychological — and who knows what else and when.
So it’s liberating and reassuring to know that you do indeed have several healthy menu options where alone time is concerned, Alone Time All Alone and Alone Time with Another being just two of them. You might also have an appetite for:
Alone Time with Accompaniment — alone time accompanied by, say, your favorite TV show or your favorite band. When I want Alone Time with Accompaniment, I think of a way to drive somewhere in my car … so that I can sing with Robert Plant as Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” pounds the windows at a thousand decibels.
Alone Time with Ambiance — a combination of Alone Time with Another and Alone Time with Accompaniment: alone time with a few other people (and sounds) around. Think coffee shop on this one. Ideally, a coffee shop with just a few other people present — none of whom asks “May I join you?” — and equipped with surround-sound speakers that are softly playing Enya music.
You can order any type of alone time you want or need, whenever you want it or need it. It may not always be immediately available. But you can always get it to go so that you can savor it later.
Be sure to top it off with an extra treat sometimes too — something scrumptious if not exactly nutritious. Alone Time a la Mode, perhaps.