The Sweetness of Solitude

This morning I ate a cinnamon sugar donut in my bed which is also my office. It was a pretty dangerous thing to do given that cinnamon sugar donuts are extremely messy but in an invisible way. When I was done I looked down and saw no signs of donut particles. But as I move around in these sheets throughout my work day, and surely as I lie down to sleep tonight, I will feel the hidden sandy grit of sugar on the back of my arms. 

You shouldn’t work in your bed, they say. You must have clear boundaries when working from home to keep you sane. You shouldn’t eat there either. It’s not healthy. And you certainly shouldn’t eat donuts.

But I did, I do. My fingers are sticky from sugar as I type these words and pull my covers up a little further over me and set my coffee cup back down on my bedside table. 

That donut was perfect. It was warm and sweet and tasted like childhood. Like when my dad would drive down the street to the Donut Palace in Lewsiville, Texas and bring back Saturday morning surprises. The same place I would meet my high school boyfriend before school so we could do the crossword in the paper without buying it and because calories don’t count when you’re on your first metabolism.

They count now. They count extra when you’re stuck inside and don’t ever walk to the train or meet friends for yoga anymore. They count the most when your bed is also your office is also your dining room is also your jail.

This is my island of one. My island for one. My mattress on boxspring on bed frame on floor on foundation on earth that turns and turns. All the parts of me are here. My puffy morning eyes and lotioned hands. My weakening core and unpainted toenails. My sugary sheets and job-in-a-screen and handheld human connection that needs to be charged. And most of all, my longing.

A longing for (some defined period of time) ago. Before all of this. When 82nd street was still a morning parade of upper east siders in line for croissants or school drop off or the Q train. When Sarah Jarosz swam through my ears on a Tuesday morning commute. When an elevator bank measured office arrivals – a moving bar graph of what we thought was productivity. 

But it’s more than that, this longing of mine. Not just for normalcy, not just to return. Here on this island for one I’ve realized how numbing its all been. How the restaurants and bars and meetings and spin classes and small talk on a stairwell have tuned out a deeper ache. One that sits here now belly up beside me – exposed, vulnerable, loud.

There was a park in my neighborhood growing up called Kid’s Kastle. It was this elaborate wooden playground with hidden caves and secret slides and monkey bars that took you from one section to the next. My friend Steven created a game we called lava pit which probably mirrored a thousand other games created on a thousand other playgrounds where the game is tag and the ground is lava. But to us it was new and novel and a weekly ritual. Run from whoever is chasing you. Never touch the ground.

I think they’re tearing down that park now to build something newer. With it, they’ll take down a million little memories. The time I broke my nose after tripping over my shoelace. The time I hid under the slide so I didn’t have to run the mile in P.E. The time a boy named Jason kissed me without asking and I cried because I’d never been kissed before.

But all of those memories are here with me on this mattress. They’re strung about invisibly next to countless others of their kind in various vintages. Remnants of shame and hope and innocence and fear. My dad’s two fingers through the dugout fence for a mini high five after an inning. The taste of gin and tonic in the back room of an Auburn bar. The burn of my first New York winter. The crawl of my last half marathon mile. The night last October when I cried so hard I couldn’t stand and snotted all over my two best friends as they held me up. 

It’s all here with me. Every heartbreak and promotion and late night cigarette and first kiss and childhood christmas and fit of laughter and tearful call to my mom. Plus, all the nothings in between. All the cartilage of my life. All of the things I don’t remember any more. All the dreams and loves and singeing pain that never made its way past the following Wednesday.

As well as this longing beside me, within me, to turn away from so much of it. To only keep the good stuff. To shove the rest off the mattress and close my eyes against it. To build my pillowy castle out of only the parts of myself, my story, that I like. Then to run from whatever is chasing me. To never touch the ground.

But it all stays. It surrounds me here on my island for one. Little sugary particles of 30 short, beautiful, confusing years, sitting in these sheets, invisible to see, sweet but rough against my skin.

And I realize in this suckingly isolated moment that it all belongs. Every fracture and fault. Every misstep and all of the dread.

I wouldn’t have the moments I want to remember without the ones I don’t or can’t. Without darkness there is no need for light. Without death, no need for resurrection. Only one wins in the end but they both have a place in the meantime.

A place on this island. Where I meet Mercy. Where Grace rushes in. Where Hope in a righteousness not my own, in a Love that found me first, threads a needle of meaning and miracle through every moment, good and bad, remembered and not. 

This is where my mattress on boxspring on bed frame on floor on foundation on earth that turns and turns finds a quiet Hallelujah as the beauty of Redemption, the healing of Forgiveness, the promise of Wholeness coming back again meets my every longing and more.

Where there’s no need to run. Nothing to chase or be chased by. Just the promise of Peace in the quiet of the morning and the sweetness of sugar on my tongue.

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

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