On Solitude

The last time you weren’t here, no one
turned on the TV for a week or used
the drip coffeemaker. A roll of paper
towel lasted a week. In the quiet
of evenings after supper, I put
the kettle on to boil for tea
and tried to read my book, or wrote
things on the computer while laundry
tumbled in the background. The same
is true tonight. Though I still hear
the chirr of cicadas in the trees
that ring the neighborhood, they seem
quieter now too than at the beginning
of summer. A man can be himself
only so long as he is alone, wrote
Schopenhauer. How often was he
truly by himself, without having
meals brought up to him or laundry
taken away discreetly in the morning?
The truth is, we all crave that sort
of solitude that isn’t merely loneliness
tinged with exhaustion or some kind
of worry. In other words, a woman is
never really alone, even when she’s alone.

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