Last Tuesday I was invited to a special event: Breakfast with Mother. It meant crossing London, to the East End, for 8:00 a.m., and the journey brought me back to my NY days, when I had a similar commute - from Manhattan's Upper East Side - to Wall Street, to work in the art department of a large bank. I'd emerge from the World Trade Center subway stop and walk with the other people, alone, observing. There was also a similar contrast in neighbourhoods: right near NY's 'City' was an equally wilderness, a creative incubation area of downtown-ness: Tribeca. Increasingly, over the years, I'd work with really arty people doing fun arty things. I'd choose my work by the people I worked with. People who inspired and challenged me.
But always, I cherished my time alone.
I found myself leaving the event at 10 and walking through Shoreditch back to Liverpool Station. This was the halfway point between arriving at work and the rush that would flood out of these offices - the little creative places of Curtain Road, the huge money making factories of the City (where it feels that they are, literally, making money), and the cold, bone chilling damp misty rain of the day added to that feeling that we are, ultimately, alone.
And that it isn't such a bad thing. I felt the presence of God that day. It's hard to explain, but it's been my plan to do this post - little bits of Poppy Red - for today, Remembrance Sunday. Then in a strange coincidence, I woke and clicked on The Photodiarist's gorgeous post ('on being alone') and planned to only post photos, and ask you to read her words instead.
But here's the contradiction that is me: I am a person who never uses six words when 56 will do. Brevity is not my strong point (hence waiting forever to finally join twitter). It is absolutely exhausting being with me, especially the first few times, because I never shut up. (Those that stick with me past the first few times discover that I do, eventually, calm down). The reality is that I come from a long line of loners and need to be alone every day, to quiet my mind and start to really see. And luckily, I am married to a man who feels the same way.
We're about to go on a walk and an adventure today, like we like to do. I'm sure we'll talk at times but we'll also be quiet, alone in our own thoughts. And I, for one, on the day that Aung San Suu Kyi wakes to her first day of freedom in many years, will be giving thanks to those brave men AND women who have given their lives, and continue to, so I can walk free.