I’m sitting in front of the computer, surfing the web, checking the wedding section of the New York Times. I’m shooting out emails, and double checking my calendar for the upcoming week.
To be precise, I’m using my boyfriend Alan’s computer and sitting in Alan’s office chair. My calendar and journal are splayed out on Alan’s desk, and I’m surrounded by Alan’s books.
Alan, conveniently, is sitting at the kitchen table, grading papers and writing with a pen and paper. He’s old-fashioned like that.
We are sitting in silence.
Our silence is still, sweet, and productive. Yet at a different time, with a different person, this type of scenario might have felt a lot less so.
Have you ever been in a room with someone, siting politely, wordless, and all the while climbing the walls? The silence isn’t silent at all, but a loud and stressful roar. On the outside you’re calm. On the inside you’re anything but.
I recently had this type of experience. I was in a car, in silence, in the passenger seat, in a rainstorm. The driver was my mom and her knuckles were whiter than fresh snow. She declared “no talking”, as she needed complete silence to concentrate on the road. That was a very loud silence, indeed.
Alternately, it is possible for two people to sit in silence, and in comfort. Each person holds a space for the other to be themselves. Each person takes care of themselves. No one is being coddled, nor stifled. No one is looking for approval or guidance. No one feels put-upon. Both are simply existing as their best individual selves while in the presence of someone else who knows that their best is absolutely extraordinary.
I choose the second option, thank you very much. I appreciate the time Alan and I are together, still and silent. And in a few short moments I’ll get up, close the browser on his computer, and walk across the apartment to give my boyfriend a kiss.