I have a routine on Saturday morning that I’ve fine-tuned over the years. Calling it a “routine” implies just that, when it’s more of an aspiration that I sometimes manage with lots of forethought and planning. There are many things that can take over a Saturday, but I do my best to schedule as many things around the morning hours. I give myself permission to show up a little late to a fall soccer game or sign up for the second shift of a Saturday event. I layout my clothes the night before, and I bring up my phone before I go to bed, set the alarm on it, and tuck it inside a book on the floor by my bed. The girls are both actual and might-as-well-be teenagers with regards to sleeping now, and they like to stay in bed for hours on Saturday mornings. M gets up so early during the work week, that he also enjoys rolling over and catching a couple extra hours of sleep as well. So I do my best to be quiet.
I work in an open office, and the longer I work here, the more I realize just how tiring it can be sometimes to have so many messages hitting my brain at the same time. Even when I’m focused on what I’m doing, I hear the visitors at the door, or various phones ringing, or conversations around the room. My email inbox is always receiving something, and in the afternoon the text messages around E’s schedule start popping up on my phone. Maybe a year ago, maybe it’s longer now, I realized that I needed to remove myself from that space for a few minutes each day, so I try to do that around lunch time. Even if it’s for a very short time, it still feels like a reset button to me.
And that’s how I feel about Saturday mornings – a reset button from the work week. I feel like I need the alone time, but admitting that feels strange, and not entirely accurate. I spend most of the week longing for the weekend to reconnect with my family, and kicking off that time with time spent alone feels at odds with that. So I’ve stopped considering it “alone time”, and I just think of it as “aloneness”. The definition of aloneness is presence, fullness, aliveness, joy of being, overflowing love. You are complete, you are enough.
I love my Wednesday morning walks with F in the garden, and I loved them with E as well. But a couple of years ago I stopped getting volunteers when I’d ask at dinner on Friday nights – “Who wants to get up and go to the garden with me in the morning?” – so now it’s usually just me.
I arrive when it opens early for walkers, at seven. I take a different route each time. I look for small things budding in places that most would overlook. I stretch out all of the stiffness of a desk job. It’s fragrant, and smells clean and damp and new. I see the same faces that I see each week, we greet each other in passing. Sometimes I run into people I know from elsewhere that have built this ritual into their lives as well. I notice when there is someone new I haven’t seen before, and it makes me glad. I want others to know this secret too.
I leave the garden just before eight, and head a few blocks south to the farmers’ market in the adjacent park. I have a firm time limit here – twenty minutes – twenty-five tops. The stands are just opening up, and so the lines are short and it’s doable. I pick up flowers and exchange good mornings and light conversation with the sellers. I’ve been walking for an hour among flowers, so the abundance of options for taking home feels overwhelming at times. The regulars are there – all the people that want first crack at the offerings. An older couple wheels in a giant wicker shopping basket, and they purchase buckets of flower each week. They must spend hundreds of dollars some Saturdays. I once parked next to them at a gas station, and saw the flowers in the back of their expensive station wagon. They waved with recognition.
I set the time limit because I have a yoga class to get to. I started this class several years ago, back when I had just completed physical therapy for my feet and my PT was taken aback that I couldn’t touch my own toes. I was the least stretchy person, and my balance was abysmal. I parked myself in the back corner, and whispered to the instructor that I had no idea what I was doing. It’s a power yoga class, so the holds are long, and the poses and add-on’s are challenging, but I was instantly hooked. My body is a different body now, but so is my mind. There is a community to this room, and to other classes that I take at the Y. I’m no longer that person in the corner anymore, silent, unsure.
During class on Saturday I thought about aloneness, and then community. I numbered dozens of people I had connected with in some way that morning as I deepened my breathing on the mat. When I miss a week, I miss these people; when I return, they ask me how I’ve been, and I do the same.
I can remember a time in my life where making new connections in a room full of strangers felt daunting and exhausting. Now it gives me energy and adds fullness to my day. I ease back into the house with a late breakfast that is simple and special. I pour a cup of coffee and enjoy a different light in the kitchen. The flowers rest in the sink, awaiting fresh water, a trim, and a vase. I see their blooms all week long, and they take me back to the quiet currents of community, overflowing love.