Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I haven't been lonely since



(images taken at The Whale Wins)

Once upon a time, I was a nurse. My first job out of college, I worked the night shift, as all, or at least most, new nurses do. I rented a little house in a quiet suburban neighborhood, and adopted a couple of kittens for company. I liked living alone, but I had just been through a breakup, and at times loneliness overwhelmed me. I kept busy. I planted a garden in the back yard. I took rambling walks. I cooked simple, comforting meals for myself every night before work, and the ritual was nourishing. It got me through the long night ahead. I roasted vegetables, and topped them with poached or fried eggs, and herbs from my garden. I made ratatouille out of the vegetables I grew. Sometimes I’d stir a risotto into existence. Then I’d put a napkin in my lap, sit next to the window that overlooked my garden, and read while I ate. I didn't mind eating alone. After I’d finished and cleaned up the kitchen, I went to bed, mostly for the comfort of lying between sheets in the evening. The kittens would curl up together on the pillow next to mine, and we'd rest for an hour or two. When the neighborhood became completely quiet and devoid of light, aside from the street and porch lights, my alarm would go off. I’d brush my teeth, get dressed, fill a thermos with coffee, and drive to work.

I worked on a mother-baby unit, which I loved. If you have to be awake all night, it’s a good way to do it. I’d try to coax newborns to nurse, and help their mothers recover from childbirth. As I interacted with the babies, their inky eyes would stare at me with unblinking intensity. Sometimes I’d play a game with them. I’d stick out my tongue, then do it again, and again, and often, they’d do it back, after a time. I couldn’t imagine how I got lucky enough to be a part of this first conversation of theirs.

I began to regret the solitary existence of the night shift. Other people slept when I was awake; I slept when everyone else was out living their lives. As I tended my garden and simmered pots of soup and cared for the newborns, I dreamed about falling in love and having a family someday. Eventually, I gave up my nights with the babies for a day job on a surgical unit, and my garden in that quiet little neighborhood for an apartment in a bustling part of town where I never felt alone. Before too long, I met Alexi, and I haven't been lonely since.

13 comments:

tea_austen said...

This is lovely, Lecia. xox

Lindi Beaudreault said...

I also remember having to learn to be alone. It is an invaluable skill (if a distant memory most days).

KPiep said...

I had a similar alone time....and it was priceless.

pve design said...

Lecia,
Your words are straight from the heart. Nurses are truly incredible, especially the night nurses who give up sleep for the care and well being of others. I hope you will write a book one day. Your experiences shared are so comforting.
pve

Purple Flowers said...

A heartfelt chapter of your life, and it's nice to know how you met Alexi.

Jenni said...

This is beautiful and really speaks to me right now. Thank you.

chai ling said...

10.26am | from my office desk in a hospital (i work in the department of neurology :) it is beautiful you met alexi, it is wonderful i found your blog, it is perfect to read it today. it's (already) friday here!

Anonymous said...

such a beautiful, poignancy as you write about that period of your life. x

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

You are a special person, Lecia. I'm glad you share these parts of yourself with us here.

sally hollingworth said...

Threads pulled from memory to create stories, and what beautiful stories you write!

Emma said...

Just lovely Lecia.

Brought me right back to my post uni (also nursing) days, and I remember those nights!

Lecia Phinney said...

Thank you so much, friends. xo

jenny said...

Such a good story, Lecia. And I bet that loneliness was so key in making you who you are, little did back then. xo