Where I Hang

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?  🙂

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Where I Hang

  1. That swing looks heavenly 🙂
    I’m a back of the house person…
    But I’d love to have dinner with you!! Yay for BlogHer!

  2. I am currently besotted with my back yard after 7 years of front porch, city living. Dinner is a whole ‘nother story. Bring it 😉

  3. I don’t care where it is; it looks like a lovely spot! Enjoy!

  4. I do the same thing, I sit outside, on our front porch, with a book. That way I can see what the neighborhood is up too, while enjoying some quiet time.

    I’d love to have dinner with you. Or the stories we could come up with!

  5. Very interesting post. While I am a backyard person because I don’t want to be watched, I would really like to be up front watching everyone else. My neighborhood is fairly quiet usually though. I have always wanted a hammock swing! I am a bit jealous of you. I’ve never gotten one because I don’t have anywhere on the house suitable to attach and I really don’t want to attach to a tree limb! I’d have to have a forty foot ladder to climb to reach the seat if placed in one of our tall pines, but oh I guess the view would be awesome IF I wasn’t afraid of heights!

  6. I love our back yard, but there is something special about being separate and still a part of the rest of the world.
    When I was little, my favorite thing was to hear my parents voices after bedtime. I was still enveloped in the world, in my safe little cocoon. And, why my first was waking up all night, I would nurse her in a chair where I could see traffic and movement in our street. Now, I am the only person on our street that uses our front yard. It’s usually with my kids, but still.
    Dinner, yes, but it’s too hot to cook.

    • Yes, that’s exactly it – “separate but still a part of the rest of the world”. It’s kind of like being a fly on the wall. I like to know what’s going on, without really being involved in it. I did the same thing when I nursed Hannah… always liked to sit by a window where I could see the life in the night. Thanks for your comment!

  7. I think I’m a back of the house person- or maybe a side of the house person- mostly private, but not totally secluded.

    A spa weekend away would be heavenly.

  8. I think I’ve changed. I used to be a front of the house person, but now I’m a back of the house person. (Of course, this really all depends on the house, doesn’t it?) Instead of looking at people, as I used to, I’d like to stare at trees and think my thoughts.

    (I would very much like to go to dinner with you! Maybe at BlogHer?)

  9. LZ

    That swing looks perfect!
    I’m a ‘front of the house’ person, too. I like to see people, even when I want to be alone.
    (BTW, I just finished that book…wow. Reading Wild Fire now.)

  10. Pop

    I liked your other title, “Well hung in the front” but can understand the confusion that may have caused. 😛

    I too like to hang in the front, but the backyard is where I do all my cooking – that’s serious, private business between me and my food.

  11. I love swings! I wish we had one where I could snuggle in and leave the bustle of the everyday behind if only for a few minutes.

    I am kind of inbetween. I like being an active observer, and there are times I like to retreat completely. It just depends on how the mood strikes me.

    As for dinner, that would be lovely. Wishing we could have a “live” conversation!

  12. Nicki

    I want a swing/chair like yours! I have a foldable chair on my front porch. That is where I sit to work, to read, to think, to be away from the family.

  13. Right now, we have a more inviting back porch, with more room, and that is where I hang out. While I too have a front porch swing and enjoy people-watching, when I’m home from my daily grind and commute, I like to retreat to the back where it feels like I’ve escaped all of it. I also take my naps on the bench on my back porch on a lazy summer afternoon – those are rare but I absolutely covet them.

    I’ve never been much of a front porch kind of girl, but these days, I have an even better reason why I choose the back – A very annoying and nosy neighbor and her equally annoying son who in her eyes can do no wrong. I really just want to avoid seeing them because if not I will be roped into a 30-minute (one-way) conversation about her life and that of the neighbors’. No thank you.

    • Ooohhh… a nosy neighbor – that would ruin it all for sure. I’m luckily too far from the road for anyone to actually stop and chat with me. A wave is about as far as the conversation can go!

  14. Everytime I read one of your posts it freaks me out how similar we are. I have never met you but don’t think I have met anyone who thinks and feels so much like I do. Freaky!

    You know I used to live in Manhattan then moved to Chappaqua. Now I live in Marin County. I live on a lagoon. The front of my house faces the bay with a bike path, the back a small lagoon.

    I love the action around me. I don’t have to participate if I don’t want to, but I can watch and feel alive, part of something bigger. I totally get the swing in the front of your life.

    I have missed you. Glad I’m back.

    • Chappaqua? Really? My husband grew up there! And his parents are still there so we spend a good amount of time there! Small world!

      I’m glad you’re back too! I’ve missed you too my friend!

  15. drama's mama

    As you know, DEFINITELY a front of house person.
    Beautiful garden in back with a waterfall–still prefer the front.
    But in a restaurant, I mainly like to focus on the people I’m with. I don’t like when other people’s conversations intrude and distract and make me want to listen to them–and I definitely don’t like it when my dining partner (s) don’t stay at MY table! I should add, that sometimes it’s funny to hear or see something around me and sometimes it provides new conversation– but mostly not. My husband is distracted enough–put us at a corner, secluded table–that’s best for me!
    I would LOVE to have dinner with you! I’d even sit with my back to the crowd so you could see it all!

  16. Oh I want one of those!!!! I’m a people watcher too, and really prefer to sit in the front to see what I can see. I live in the country though, so it’s not often much 🙂

    I like to be alone with my thoughts, but surrounded by things to look at. My husband and I always fight over the seat in the restaurant that has the best view of the people. And he always laughs at me because I listen in to the conversations at the next table. It’s fun what you can learn.

    And I can hardly wait to go to dinner with you!!

  17. That looks heavenly!

    I live on my front porch and love people watching, chatting with passers by, sharing glasses of wine with friends or having one by myself. We are just a front porch sort of family!

    And YES! I would love to have dinner with you!

  18. I’m an “alone together” person too…definitely front porch. I run a lot and usually with a pack of friends, but when I go solo, I always run on a busy trail with my headphones. I love the energy of everyone being in their own heads, but surrounded by so much life.

  19. Great post! I am such a people watcher. When I go to coffee shops to write I end up peering over my lap top and checking out all of the action around me. Like you, I crave alone time, but that doesn’t mean I’m uninterested in people.

  20. Don’t you know I eyed a little hammock just like this online for months. Have yet to buy one because I really don’t have a place for it–yet. But if I did I’d want it to be out in front, too. I miss our old, tiny green house because we would sit on the porch at night and watch the world go by. During the day I’d sit on the front steps and talk to neighbors for hours, watch Jamis ride his bike up and down the street. But now our house, though I really do like it, is on a busier street with quiet neighbors who keep to themselves and it makes me quite sad, really. It will be my main motivation for moving, when the time is right.

  21. I would be a front-of-the-house person simply out of paranoia. What if something happened and I missed it because I was hiding out back. No way no how. This may be the same reason I can’t take naps.

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