After Hours: Part 1
Room with white walls; an array of empty armchairs—all vacant but one. It is past dinner time—most occupants of the building have returned to their private lives. The only audible sound is the muffled hum of a custodian’s vacuum cleaner down the dimly lit, after-hour empty hall.
After the day’s work is done, what remains is an optional, yet if chosen, sacred time of isolation.
Sometimes being alone is a choice, other times it is thrust upon one, whether he/she welcomes it or not. Solitude, albeit at times unbearably suffocating, is in fact a vital element in life, for nothing surpasses its potency in establishing one’s true identity.
In a crowd, a social circle, amongst families, friends, and next to lovers, definition of the self has an inclination to morph into a patchwork of largely external obligations: you are how you are seen and behave how you are expected to act—a different set of rules for a different herd—make a few changes here and there, but all the same: out of social decency, we give up some of our true colors—to fit in, to appease, perhaps to even obtain what we want (as sleazy as it sounds).
But in the absence of influence, when all we have is our surroundings, the intrinsic aspects of ourselves begin to take lead. We are then how we think and how we perceive, all without the interferences, considerations of outside evaluations.
I often like to stall a little, wait on people to take off to where they need to go, and be the last person in the room. And there I would stay, just a while longer—just enough to gather up a few uninterrupted thoughts.
Sometimes I enjoy a late night walk on the backstreets, and fantasize that there is not another human being in this town.
Once a while I’d drive out when most road vehicles have returned to their respective driveways and garages and parking spaces. I’d roll the windows down, and welcome the incoming breeze. It is only on an empty road that one can truly experience wind’s earnest embrace.
I’d look round and round, slowly and tuning in on all the tiny sounds. I’d try to make everything count—until I could finally grasp the solid person still residing in my shell.
Phew, for a minute there I thought I’d lost myself.
The rewarding notions of affirmation, peace, and rescue from these solitary moments are incomparable to any other instance in the daily rounds.
Alone, I am myself again.