The last few days I have been staying at my parents' condo in Pacific Grove, near Monterey, CA. My husband, kids and I came up here on Monday in two cars, we had a great time together until Wednesday and then they went on home. And I stayed here. Alone. We'd planned it for awhile now. Three days. Two nights. In fact, I'm still sitting here for a couple more hours before I drive home.
If you know me personally you know that last year at this time, I was living in my own apartment, spending days and nights alone, every other week. I should be used to being alone.
And yet I was what you might call "totally freaking out" Wednesday as I got my husband and kids ready to go home without me. It was a combination of not feeling comfortable driving in this area (I am incredibly directionally-impaired and don't have a navigational system or internet on my phone) but I was also worried about...I don't know exactly. Intruders. Getting lost. Some of the fear was just irrational. Nameless. It was just THERE.
But I put them all in the car and waved good-bye. I slept alone, ate alone, watched movies alone, read some, wrote some, sewed some, and even drove down to the Monterey Bay alone. I had a good map but sometimes maps confuse me more, so I....well, I figured it out. I got myself from the condo down to the ocean alone. And back again. I even parked the car on a downhill, which is something I usually avoid if at all possible.
When I got to the Bay I walked to a little area with a bench, overlooking the water. I watched the waves crash. I watched seagulls scavenging for food. I listened to people walking on the bike path behind me. I took a couple photos. And I listened.
The last couple days I have been intentionally "open," wanting to receive/hear what my heart is saying. Sometimes regular life is too loud, too fast and too full to really hear. I have had a sense of anticipation since I planned these days alone; I have felt that I have been here for a reason.
So I sat there last evening on that bench overlooking the Pacific, a cold wind whipping through my sweater and hair, and I listened. Or tried to. First the anxiety came as I realized that no one knew where I was.
"No one I know knows exactly where I am."
"What if someone walks up behind me and grabs my purse? My wallet and keys are in there."
"What if the car doesn't start when I get back to it?"
Irrational anxiety clouded my head and made my stomach churn.
And then my next thought interrupted the anxiety almost as if a voice spoke it.
"You are safe."
And everything shifted in that moment. If somehow I lost my purse, or even the cell phone in my hand, or if I got lost, or if...whatever happened...I would be o.k. I. Am. Safe.
Friendly, happy voices walking by on the path behind me reminded me that the world is full of good people. They reminded me of the DOZENS of people who love me enough to drop everything and come to my rescue if I were in danger. But even the people riding by on bikes seemed friendly. They would loan me a cell phone to call for help if I needed it.
With new eyes I looked around. Even the waves seemed friendly...the same water that might have washed up on the shore of New Zealand where some of my dear friends live. Everything around me suddenly felt "familiar." I felt a part of the grass at my feet, the salty air I was breathing in, the waves crashing on the rocks below where I was sitting. I felt comforted.
Even if the unthinkable happens. Even if everyone I love was swept away. Even if the apocalypse happened.
I am safe.
Today I've been watching movies and relaxing before I head back home. But I've also been stitching something with a needle and thread, my favorite way to sew. It's a little square of pretty quilted Durham rose fabric and layered on top is a cream poplin and a row of rhinestone trim. On the cream poplin I stitched in pink, "You are safe." I cut the square the right size to put on a tiny canvas which I will hang on the wall at home. Maybe in my room. Or my studio. Not sure yet.
But when I look at it I will be reminded of these days I took for myself. How I did what I was afraid to do, no matter how silly that might sound to someone else. How I pushed through all sorts of fears to sit by the sea. Something so simple but that felt so scary and hard for me until I did it. And how my real self whispered to me what I can now carry back with me into my "real life."
You are safe.