I’m 40 years old, so I should like these quiet days, right? I should enjoy the respite that comes on the rare days when I’m caught up at work and the phone isn’t ringing off the hook and there’s no interesting email to speak of. On these days, I get to exhale little by little without racing to or through the next thing. Isn’t this what women my age on coffee commercials are dying for?
I should wrap these days around me like a handmade afghan, brew some herbal tea, and lounge in my favorite pj’s.
But I don’t. While work hanging over my head makes me anxious, being all caught up brings another sort of dread—I feel useless and bored and lethargic. Voice mails raise my blood pressure because (1) I have to listen to them and (2) I might have to do something about them, if only make return phone calls. But when I don’t get them, I feel lost and a little voice whispers you have no friends, and you will die alone with no pallbearers to hoist your casket.
In the spaces between all the things there are to do, I panic. I brood. I get extra tired. I need more snacks. On those days, every email from the Gap and Kate Spade and J. Crew entices. Maybe they have what I need.
The technical term may be boredom that word is too simple for what I feel. And my therapist says that boredom is just a code word for loneliness, so think about that the next time you tell yourself (or hear your kids tell you): I’m bored. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m just lonely today. No one seems to be around and I don’t have a crushing pile of work to rev me up or distract me.
And the retail option that has always been my sure thing is complicated now that I’ve read a zillion Facebook posts about going minimalist. I get it; I really do. Having more stuff isn’t going to make me happy, but sitting here bored lonely isn’t such a fancy cup of wonder either.
So, I’ll sit here and explore this pocket of loneliness. Face it without a chaser or until I think of one that might still work for me. Until I do, I’ll sit back, but I won’t relax and I probably won’t enjoy it.