the room beside

It's raining again, but how fitting--it's October, it's chilly, water drips and I sit here and look out at it.  

Outside-in: my way of living, my modus vivendi.  I confessed as much to a friend recently that one of my favorite things might be escaping a room full of people (laughing, interrupting, enjoying) and sitting on the bed one room over from the action. Even better if I can lay on my stomach and write, listening to the muted warbled voices, the eruptions of laugher, the pauses. Not knowing what I am missing, knowing that they really don't need me around. It's a lonely but somehow warm feeling, a lovely familiar one to me.  

I often feel left out, though I think for the most part it's self imposed or imagined. This summer, we hosted an outdoor concert in our backyard, and in the lingering crowd, a group of women (friends, mostly) circled chairs together. I didn't elbow in, I didn't hover around shoulders. I just noticed the circle, noticed my place outside. My husband nudged, "just get in there!" but I didn't mind. It wasn't intentional on their part (thank God that middle school is long past), and I felt familiar, observant. A moth drawn to a lit window. I like the luxury of being a little clueless, feeling a little sad about it.

Everything is wet and cold outside of my window, but in here it's warm and light and dry.  Makes me feel warmer for the difference.  

I just noticed that the muscadine leaves are turning, though we had not a muscadine to show. We're beginning to wonder if it's because it's lonely, if you need two muscadine vines to produce.  But it grows up there anyway, twining and reaching over a chain link fence. Ignored mostly. Until there's a change, until there's a turning. 

And I get that I need others to push me along, that I can't retreat and retract and think that it's healthy or productive. When I am with friends, I learn so much about how relationship and commuinty causes growth. I might need my room-away moments, but I need that full room reverrerating through the wall too. Reminding me. 

So I fill our weeks with meals shared, with gatherings: I fill our chairs with friends new and long known...and I sneak away to comfort a waking child and feel that other-room stirring, that comfort that I am home not-quite. That I'm known not-quite. 

Carson McCullers wrote that "we are homesick most for the places we've never known," and I know that I'm understood, that the few of you that read this may understand too. Like that muscadine vine, my thoughts trail away fruitless but growing, getting at a changing something in the air.