When I threw a party for my husband’s 50th birthday (which he claims I threw for myself), I got very revved up. So many people I loved! In my house! All at the same time! I was chattering and laughing and fluttering and racing around until John caught me in the kitchen.
“Maybe calm down a little?” he said. “You’re scaring some of the guests.”
I am an extrovert.
I walk all over town, and there’s a woman who is always sitting outside when my dog and I walk past. It’s doubtful she’s there for the view; there’s a freeway across the street. She used to sit on the sidewalk — in a lounge chair with a little table alongside and an umbrella wedged over the chair when it would rain — but now she’s always on the sagging porch of her weary cottage. She ALWAYS waves to me, and tells me how cute my dog is. I wave back and ask how her day is going, and when we part, she always calls out a blessing. Over the years, I’ve wondered what her story is. I’ve wondered if maybe she doesn’t have her own home, and an acquaintance allows her to hang out on the property. Or maybe it’s her own house, and she hoards household items, and can’t safely set foot inside. Maybe that’s it.
But since the pandemic and SIP started, it’s occurred to me that maybe she’s just an extrovert. Maybe she just feels better sitting outside.
Because now I do.
On the first day of teaching from home back on March 16, a woman passed our (corner) house, and stopped to admire a little faux-fence adornment that John made for our yard. She stood there for a bit, then took out her phone to take a picture of it. I was in our tiny dining room, in the front corner of the house, the room that is mostly floor-to-ceiling windows. She saw me see her through the window, and pointed to the little fence-thing. Then she waved, and blew me a kiss. I made a heart with my hands, and waved back. Tears instantly filled my eyes.
I am an extrovert.
Before Covid-19, when the weather was nice, I would enjoy sitting/reading in the backyard. It’s pretty and green, with bits of sunlight splashing through branches of the trees that offer shade. It’s quiet — for those intermittent moments when BART is not whooshing past a few blocks away — and peaceful.
But when SIP started, I asked John to dig out the big beach umbrella. I dragged the lounge chair (okay, it’s a zero-gravity lounge RECLINER) out to the sunny patch of grass in front of our house, plunged the umbrella into the dirt, and sat down to watch the world go by out front.
In the early days of SIP, when I was still teaching/prepping into early evening, I usually only made it out front on weekends. After five weeks, when I’d finally found a sort of structure to my teaching days, I worked fast in hopes of finishing by 4:00 so I could plant myself outside if it was warm enough.
I live on a long street sandwiched between two parallel thoroughfares that are VERY busy and industrial, so lots of walkers choose to walk up and down my quiet street in between. They’re obviously not walking for my pleasure, but I appreciate every one of them. I feel a kinship to them.
Because each person strolling/running/wheeling/biking/limping/skating/power-walking past reminds me that we all need air and light. We all need to remember that the world is bigger than the inside of our homes, and that we are all here side by side, trying to get through this. They remind me that this is hard on everyone, and that simple things can make us feel better. They make me feel connected.
What I’ve learned since I began sitting in front of my house is that maybe I’m not the only extrovert around here. I’ve met SO many people, and have had many interesting conversations. Each little contact, brief or lengthy, has made me happy, and allows me the luxury of putting aside, for a moment, the heaviness of our current life. When I take down the umbrella each evening and come back inside, I am energized as I bombard my (NON-extrovert) husband with stories from the day.
And now, thanks to the suggestion of one of the new friends who walks past my house (thank you, Rachel!), I’m starting a blog so that I can share these stories with someone other than my very patient husband.
I am privileged. I own a house. I am able to SIP safely and do not have to wait for a Supreme Court ruling to see if I could get fired for being who I am. I do not have to fight to convince the country that my life matters. I have a yard to sit in and a steady income and a long vacation time. Stories about my encounters with people on my street are tiny and insignificant, given the world we live in.
But they’re helping me, and maybe they’ll entertain you. And I believe in the power and the beauty of tiny things.
If you like the idea of reading this blog, I hope you’ll subscribe so that you’ll get a notification whenever I post. (I’m hoping I’ll be able to do maybe a post or two per week??)
For now, though, it’s time for me to head outside. I don’t want to miss any more time in the Extrovert Chair than I already have.