"I have to be alone very often. I'd be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That's how I refuel."
- Audrey Hepburn: Many-Sided Charmer, LIFE Magazine, 7 December 1953
I'm no Audrey; my flabs and hips can tell. But I share the same sentiment. In my innermost world where I allow very few people in, I very much look forward to two occasions: seeing close friends and family that I don't often see but find that things remain just as yesterday despite the years and distance apart, and retreating to a solitary bubble where I feel most at home.
|The 263-year-old British Museum|
I messaged a close friend, who's one of the few I'd meet up with in a heartbeat, that I'm having a wave of introversion. I used to fight it when I was a lot younger. I now welcome it as an important part of my being. I'm uncomfortable with company that even an empty chatter requires effort to make. It feels like a date that I need to escape from. I think the boredom in each other's presence is mutual. So I'd rather be alone.
99% of the time, I'm involved in conversations at work ranging from high-strung to nonsensical and long-drawn-out to overscrupulous, that I avoid the same outside. At least at work I get paid to suffer them. In my private life, I refuse to participate in unnecessary activities that drain my soul, and for which there is no compensation. Sometimes they can't be avoided. I make up by slowly learning to choose the interactions that make me happy. Often, that involves spending time on my own.
|Make sure the rest stays in place when you pick a book|
When I want to be alone but still be around people, I visit museums. It's a place where I find solitude even in the physical presence of others, mainly because we all have come not to have conversations or interaction but for quiet observation . In museums, I can be silent and not be perceived as troubled.
|Great Court restaurant under the iconic roof of the British Museum|
"Tea should be taken in solitude."
- C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life
And so I took mine, indeed in solitude, after checking out one of the exhibits. I had cream tea instead of afternoon tea as I had ramen prior to my visit and the latter would be too filling. I must say Marks and Spencer's cream tea is way better for a more reasonable price, but I was aware I was also paying for my surroundings on top of the cream tea at the British Museum.
Since I have started purchasing proper china, I've developed this bad habit of checking the brand used by restaurants. This one is English-made Burleigh. The company started in the pottery business in 1851. I thought they are mainly known for blue and white porcelain, but it seems green is for the museum. Or maybe not.
|Great Russell St: street view from the steps of the British Museum|
How do you celebrate solitude?