I have a good friend who lives in Fargo. She is a former student and when she graduated, she told me we should never say goodbye. The very next week, she drove the 40 miles from Belgrade to visit. As the years passed, we kept in contact. She went to college and then got her first “real job.” She would stop by often, call every year on my birthday and always share her life experiences with me. Two years ago, when we decided to visit the Høstfest (a celebration of everything Scandinavian) in Minot, I suggested that she join us. And we had an amazing time together. At the Beach Boys concert the last night we were there, she taught me how my phone also had a flashlight. The whole audience was to turn on their flashlights and wave them to the beat of the Beach Boys’ final song. It was awesome!
That night, after Grant had gone to bed, we sat together in front of the fireplace in the hotel’s lobby and talked. She told me how she really was and why close relationships were difficult for her.
It might be hard for a mere acquaintance of hers to realize she really is an introvert. In public, she is always cheerful and charming and appears to love being around people. But her strength comes from her alone time. The time when she can sit in silence and just be. I can relate, of course, because I too need my alone time. It is what I may be like the most about retirement. I can be alone. I have time to just sit. I find a quiet place either outside or inside depending on the season and weather. I don’t read or listen to music; I just sit and let my thoughts wander. I find strength in that. Strength to go on with whatever life will throw my way.
Last night, I called my Fargo friend. Even before COVID-19, she often worked from home. But like most people living alone, and despite needing her alone time, she is having a tough time now. She first asked me what I was looking forward to this week and I answered I was looking forward to being in nature and enjoying spring. And then I asked her. She had to think. Then she told me she was thinking of reading more. She was thinking of creating her own worship space. She was thinking of using her telephone more to call people, not just text. Since she couldn’t go to the gym, she was thinking of joining an online exercise class. And she told me, she was starting a grateful journal. The first thing she was going to be grateful for was the opportunity to experience the silence created by the Shelter-in-place order which is extended through May 4th.
Like always, my young friend teaches me so much. Despite living in the country and being able to take walks on country roads, despite living with a sweet husband and enjoying my alone time, I miss my friends and family. So starting today, I will start counting the blessings caused by COVID-19: the lack of busyness. The silence. The improvement in air quality. And the opportunity to spend more time alone. Thinking. Praying and thanking the Good Lord for another amazing spring day on the prairie.