Yesterday morning, a friend texted to see if I wanted to have dinner later. “Thanks, but I think I’m staying in,” I wrote back. “It sort of feels like a quiet day.”
What an understatement.
My voice emerged only a couple of times on what turned out to be a beautiful Sunday: when I took myself out for breakfast and placed my order, when I called the puppies back to me on the beach widened by low tide, when I sang along to songs and danced in my kitchen. Each time, though I recognized I was being dramatic, it felt like a surprise that my vocal chords still worked.
Such a silent day reminded me of how it was, occasionally, when I first moved to California. In those early days, when I didn’t know anyone on the coast, I would sometimes find myself completely quiet for a full day; once or twice, I nearly made it a whole weekend without talking. It wasn’t by design. It was just my introverted self being fully indulged, shy at the thought of calling a near-stranger to see if they wanted to hang out, a little nervous that maybe they didn’t want to hear from me. I wondered a lot, back then, what I was doing here. I took a lot of long walks; I spent extra time on errands, weighing grocery-store choices more thoughtfully than was necessary.
Slowly, of course, and really not that slowly at all, people here offered their friendship, and now – more often than not – I feel almost too busy, almost too loud. It’s a lucky problem. Saturday, for example, was one plan after another, the whole day steeped in conversation and laughter. And indeed, yesterday I had longstanding plans with a friend, who had to unexpectedly cancel; two other friends had asked me to join them on adventures but I declined. When I found myself with nothing at all to do, it made me curious to see what might unfold.
But here’s the tricky thing about being quiet, even as an introvert: in my experience, at least, it’s pretty easy to start feeling sort of lonely. Even as I planned my day to be exactly what I felt like doing – a meandering walk, time at the beach, writing and the Sunday paper, good coffee in the morning and soup I made for myself at night – I wondered what everyone else was up to. It wasn’t that I worried about missing out. It was just that I wondered if they were thinking of me, as I was thinking of them. I wondered if my silence was noticeable, or if it created an echo only I could hear.
It doesn’t matter. Today will be words upon words, as Mondays are, and my quiet day will be nothing noteworthy, just a wisp of a moment soon drowned by the sounds of life. What a good thing it was to be quiet; what a good thing talking again will be.