Last night, I had a girlfriend over for dinner. I live out in the country, exactly 23 miles from downtown Austin. One of my dear friends jokes that I live so far out that she needs a passport to come visit. It’s obviously not that far, but the drive does keep people from just stopping by and often even from coming over at all. But this friend wanted to come. I think she has a thing for Bread, which I totally understand! He is a handsome little guy.
For nearly four hours, we talked at my kitchen table, nibbling on food much of the time. For the last hour, we began the process of saying goodnight and wandered my house and talked about different things. Alison admired my vast collection of books. I got to show her the Christmas cards from friends around the country that cover my refrigerator. I got to show her the blinds that Bread or Butter or perhaps both mutilated. As I showed her my piano room, she noticed a picture of my friend Jeff, who died in 2006, and that gave me an opportunity to tell her about what a special guy he was and what a beautiful relationship he had with a woman who loved him long before he realized it (though it was clear as day to me, silly boy) and who continues to love him more and more with each passing day. She even noticed the little Saint Gertrude statue that my friend Catherine gave me years ago. Saint Gertrude is, among other things, the patron saint of cats, so she lives high up on a shelf in my living room where she can keep a watchful eye on Bread and Butter for me.
I got to have conversations with Alison that could only happen in my space. And I loved every minute of it. I think Alison had fun too, at least in part because Bread warmed up to her incredibly quickly and even sat on her lap for a bit. That’s unusual for him. He’s a total love bug with me but incredibly shy around strangers.
When she left, not because we ran out of things to say but because it was nearly midnight, I walked back into my house, started to do the dishes, and caught myself smiling. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed having someone in my home.
I’ve spent much of the last year telling myself that I’m better off alone than with someone who is able to walk away from me – someone who is willing to do life without me. That’s true, I think. But I also think I’d started to warp my own message. I’d started to tell myself that I should be alone.
Last night, I was reminded how much I enjoy the company of another, how much I enjoy sharing space with another, and how much I do not desire to be alone, even if it’s easier than dealing with disappointment, even if it’s safer than trusting another completely, even if it’s less scary than trying again.
I’m grateful to Alison for making the drive, for being genuinely interested in who I am and how I am, and for helping me remember how wonderful it feels to share my home with another person. I needed that reminder.