I’m writing to you today from a coffee shop in my hometown. It’s Sunday, March 24th, and I’m just a couple of hours away from driving to pick up my kids from their dad. This weekend they were away, and I had time to myself to be me, as opposed to being Mom. My spirits are normally high, especially this time of year, but a strange mood has come over me this weekend.
I went to Baristas in downtown Cape Girardeau yesterday morning to get some book writing done. I explored the downtown antique stores, where I purchased a couple of chairs for my patio. Then I went to TJ Maxx and bought new sheets for the new bed I’m getting–an upgrade from a full to a queen–and picked up a few kitchen gadgets. Then I went to Target for a Chromebook because my laptop has my patience worn thin with its constant crashing and freezing. Then I picked up some soft yellow spray paint that reminds me of the daffodils growing next to my mailbox, to paint my new chairs.
Sounds like a great day, but I didn’t feel very great. Normally I love spending time alone. I find it refreshing; rejuvenating. But yesterday? I went to one of my usual hangouts, Ebb and Flow, in late afternoon. I invited my usual people, plus another friend who was in town from St. Louis, and no one came. I went home around 5:00 and had the sinking realization that I had just spent my entire free, kidless Saturday completely alone.
This is something that didn’t used to bother me, but lately I’ve become more social. Maybe because moving to my new office at my new location at work, I spend all of my weekdays alone. I no longer see customers coming in and out, and I don’t have my coworker friends stopping by to talk to me. I’m alone all day, so I guess on my weekends I want to be surrounded by people. And usually, I am. But this weekend, one friend had a baby shower, one friend was out of town, one friend was working…everyone was unavailable, and even though I was free to move about and was surrounded by strangers downtown, I was alone.
Something I’ve been reflecting on quite a lot lately, is the passing of time. I will be 34 in three months, and I’m realizing how much time has been left behind me. I’m realizing how many years I spent trying to figure out who I am, and trying to feel like the time was “right” for me to meet people. I’ve realized how much time I spent reclusive and hiding away from the world, and I’ve been overwhelmed by a sense of regret. How many life-changing encounters have I missed? What friendships might I have missed out on? And most of all, did I miss out on the right man for me while I was in hiding? Is he out there somewhere now, married to someone else because I wasn’t willing to put myself out into the world to meet him?
I suppose now spending an entire Saturday alone bothers me, because I feel like I’ve wasted too much of my time, and I don’t want to waste anymore. A day spent alone is a day I must allow to float into my past, insignificant and wasted. It’s a day I can never get back or get right. I’ve been feeling like I need to make the most of every day I’m given, and for me that means making connections. Forming bonds. Creating meaningful friendships and relationships. And any day that passes in which I do none of those things feels like wasted time. And I’ve grown immensely afraid of wasted time.
Chronophobia. That is the official term for fear of passing time. I can’t explain where this new fear has come from, or why it’s chosen this particular time in my life to appear. I know that in the grand scheme of things, I am young. I still have (hopefully) a great deal of time ahead of me. And yesterday was just a fluke day, and there will be so many more days to come where my friends and I will all be together.
Actually, I got to spend about an hour last night with friends I haven’t seen much of lately because they’re married and have young kids now, so they aren’t as free to get together as they used to be. The friend who was in town from St. Louis invited me to Dogwood with the group. It was 7:20pm, and I was already showered and in my bathrobe, painting my nails while watching A Fish Called Wanda on Hulu. But I got up, threw on some clothes and little makeup, and went out to see them.
I suppose this quick hangout session at the final hours of the evening somewhat made up for a day spent alone. And I know this fear of wasted time is a bit irrational. I also know that it will pass, and I will get back to feeling like “me” again as life continues on. But right now, in this moment, I’m craving something more.