I have this new swing. It hangs from the ceiling of a small partially enclosed side entryway to my house. Made of rope and fabric and two overstuffed pillows, it envelopes my body as if I’m wrapped in a cozy sling. My feet just reach the ground when I sit in it, allowing me to sway from side to side. Back and forth. I imagine this is a bit how Luke felt when I carried him in the sling for the first 5 months of his life. Cradled. Comforted. Fully relaxed.
Where as I used to look forward to putting the kids to bed and curling up on the couch in front of the TV, I now skip down the stairs from their bedrooms, laptop or book in hand and head out to my swing. Normally Tim isn’t home yet, so it allows me some quiet, Me time to close out my day.
I told a good friend of mine about my new favorite spot and she asked where I hung it. She assumed in the back of my house. By the pool in complete privacy. Where I can hear the bubbling of the pool filter and watch the fireflies reflect off the water. I told her in front. Facing the street where I can watch the world pass by. I hadn’t even THOUGHT of hanging it in the back. But her surprise made me think. Why DO I want this swing in the front of my house? Where anyone can see me. Where I’m out in the Open.
I’m someone who craves quiet time. I turn the radio OFF in the car whenever I’m traveling alone. These days I’d opt for a quiet glass of champagne at a dimly lit lounge with my husband over dancing in a club. A weekend ALONE at a spa? Bring it on. I don’t need much other company to be happy. The noise in my own head very often is just enough.
So you’d think I would have chosen a hidden beam, out of view, in total privacy for this swing to hang. But no. Here I sit at 8:30 at night watching cars whiz by. In the 20 minutes I’ve sat here, I’ve waved hello to 2 runners and smiled to myself at the 3 or 4 bikers I’ve seen go by with a helmeted toddler seated on the back. I can hear the three little girls laughing hysterically in the house across the street. Another neighbor has been outside trying (and not succeeding) to train his new dog. The teenager who lives behind us is talking on the phone on their back deck. I can’t hear the conversation, but the start and stop of her voice lets me know she’s out there presuming she’s in privacy.
Even though I’m alone, I still feel a Part of something. A part of Other people’s somethings.
I’ve always been a people watcher. Living in NYC, I used to sit on a park bench in Central Park with a cup of coffee and just watch. And wonder. Where people were going. Where they were from. If couples were on a first date, a blind date, a last date. If they looked unhappy because of work, friends, love life or whether that was just their game face which meant nothing at all.
I even used to sit and stare out my apartment window watching the bustling and listening to the chatter below. Trying to make out bits and pieces of conversations (I never could afford an apartment THAT far off the ground so eavesdropping was possible!), enjoying the escape from my world into someone else’s. I never would have liked an apartment that faced the “back” (although I did have one that faced a brick wall – again, the money issue). I liked to face forward. Toward life.
In restaurants, I need to face into the crowd. I like a quiet table but not secluded, where I can’t see what everyone else is up to. I like to speculate about people’s lives. See how they interact. Make assumptions about their relationships. (You’re thinking I must not be much fun to go out with aren’t you? Don’t worry, I DO include those I’m with in my thoughts if they’re interested!). And the perfect seat? One outside. Where I can see the diners around me AND the pedestrians passing by.
And now here I am. A “front of the house” type person. I wouldn’t want a communal front yard (one reason Central Park grew old for me) but at the same time, I like to be Out there. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m a very open person, letting people in often too early. But just as I love to watch the world around me, I also welcome others in. To be a part of MY world, here on my swing.
I wonder what this says about me. It might sound as if I’m lonely and like to feel included in the world around me by Watching. And although, yes, some days I AM lonely, it’s not the explanation for my “front of the house” preference.
I simply like to sit quietly on my swing and wonder about the lives of others, as I escape a little from my own.
Are you a “front of the house” or “back of the house” person?
Are you a people watcher?
Would you like to go out to dinner with me? 🙂