amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Ottawa, May 2, 2020 – Vive la solitude


Second cup of coffee and two crumpets consumed whilst sitting in front of computer going thru FB and Twitter. Mostly just seeing gentle posts. Listening to our recently added music playlist on Sonos via ITunes. Shuffling thru Sexsmith, Chesnutt, Marling and Ghostpoet. It’s a good mix.

Yesterday on CBC’s Ontario Today call in show, the question Rita Celli asked callers was “will you ever crave a crowd again?” I admit I listened to only a bit of the show and then mused about craving crowds. I can honestly say I have never liked being in a crowd or anything to do with the concept of crowding multiple folk in a space. The worst memories I have of outdoor concerts were when the Blues Festival and the Folk Festival moved from Confederation Park/Britannia Beach and added mainstream acts to their lineups, causing huge crowds with drunken louts and rain sodden teens splashing mud on me from their stomping around in the rain. My best memories of both of these concerts involved lawn chairs, plenty of space, slide guitar, a little rum in my Coke. So, no, Rita, I don’t crave crowds.

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to enjoy live online events since the pandemic lockdown began. I haven’t done it much. When Charles and I first met, we used to attend a lot of literary events together. Then, after my health crisis, I attended but not as often. In the last few years, my attendance at events, literary or otherwise has been sparse.

I think it’s time to admit that for now at least, and I don’t know how long this feeling is going to last, I am just not into going out to events. I don’t like being out at night, I’m tired by about 9pm if not earlier. I’m not comfortable sitting on hard chairs for long periods of time. I cannot abide small talk and I don’t like being alone and feeling like an outsider, which you’d think wouldn’t happen to me, given my twenty-year involvement in Ottawa’s literary community, but it does. It makes sense that it does. Not attending a lot of events means not being recognized by people.

Many of the friends I made in the early and mid-aughts, when I went to a lot of events, are also no longer attending events. Age, health, different priorities…all of these factors contribute to this.

Younger poets and organizers are taking on the mantle of organization of literary and other events. I’m pleased and highly supportive of this. But I’m happy not to have to go anymore, including the online events. If they’re recorded, I might nip in to listen, but in general, I’m happy to quietly read the work myself and cheer everyone on from the sidelines.

From time to time, once things are up and running again, I might go to the occasional reading, to try out a new poem of mine at an open mic or support a friend, but I don’t anticipate this happening much.

Instead I prefer one-on-one interactions with dear friends, whether it’s through e-mail now or in person over a libation and a meal or a good, long walk.

This is something I have learned about myself during the shutdown. I enjoy solitude. This realization and acceptance of my solitary nature is the only good thing, I think, to come from the enforced isolation.

I can’t feel positive about something that’s killing people, causing financial and emotional hardship and stress for so many people, but I am glad to have learned a bit more about myself and how I’m changing. I’m not saying this is how I’ll always be, but for now…I’m content with solitude and intimacy over crowds and public gatherings.

No comments: