The apartment’s lights are turned low and only the candles’ soft, intimate glow falls across the table. Tonight’s dinner is wild mushroom gnocchi with pancetta, sage, and king oyster mushrooms sautéed in salted butter and garlic. The gnocchi are perfectly soft, creamy almost under the crunch of crisped sage, their richness tempered by peppery arugula salad freshened just with lemon and salt. The wine is a chilled pinot gris, purchased this morning from a Frenchman wearing a tailored gray suit in a small shop down the street. It’s a Saturday night, and the only person in the apartment is me. All this is just for me.
I woke up alone this morning, confused at first by the empty bed before remembering that David is in Munich for a conference, and that all week, I’ll be waking up early to the sun in our windows without his grumbly morning snores. It’s strange, when you live together with someone, to spend time in your shared apartment alone. I work from home two days each week, so during the daytime, I’m used to having the run of it and fully inhabiting our space – but not the nights or the mornings. It’s strange.
But it’s still my first day alone, and it’s still novel. Too often, we’re afraid of spending time alone, afraid that it means we’re friendless, that we don’t have anything better to do. But I love keeping my own company. No pressure, just an easy pleasure in the smallest things – a new pop playlist, a room of dusted baseboards, time to write.
This morning, I skipped around the house in slippered feet. I put a podcast on to play and ate a slow breakfast: hot coffee freshly French-pressed and granola with berries and amaranth. And while Friday night partiers were just slinking into bed, I left the apartment for the Winterfeldt Markt.
It’s spring in Berlin. The crocuses are just peeking out of the grassy strip on Hauptstraße, shaking as the traffic hustles past, and the birds are chattering in reunion. What a long trip north. Your feathers are looking good! Have you lost weight? I stopped at Double Eye, my favorite coffee in Berlin, and picked up a galão to go – a Portuguese concoction of espresso and foamed milk. I’ve always loved coffee to go the best. Ever since New York, I’ve felt most at home in a city when walking, feeling the pavement beneath my feet, feeling the caffeine sharpen my synapses. The city blossoms.
In the market, I browsed the greens, falling in love with chard in parakeet colors. I bought branches of billowy yellow flowers and spiky blossoms in cadet blue and arugula, a bag of homemade gnocchi, a bundle of bright carrots, herby sage and mushrooms. What a lovely feeling, to be laden with produce wrapped in brown paper bags, to walk your city’s cobblestoned streets and window shop, knowing the sidewalk’s every twist.
For lunch, there was sautéed chard from the market with fried egg and feta. I even opened the windows, the kitchen warmed by the sunshine. The silky egg yolk like a small, broken sun over the bright chard.
In the afternoon, I wrote. I napped. I made more coffee and played Berlioz.
The sun set and I hardly noticed. I lit candles. I cooked dinner, filling the apartment with sage’s almost illicit aroma and the sweet, smoky scent of bacon fat. I poured the wine.
I have been my own company today. I have entertained myself – not with activities but the activeness of my own mind. I’ve missed this, and by the time David comes home, I’ll have missed him too.