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  • Aram Mitchell

solitude, sort of

There’s a place I’ve been going to the past couple of weeks. It’s a short drive on country roads to get there. There is a pond and trees and sky and a picnic table where I sit and take out my journal, or a clipboard with scrap paper, or my computer, to sort through my priorities and pick away at some projects.

I go to this place when I feel a need for a buffer of space between my roaming thoughts and everyday demands. I go seeking a spot where I can be anonymous for a while. I go for solitude.

But I’m seldom all the way alone. There’s a gravel parking lot near the spot, a boat launch, and several good rocks upon which to sit and several good banks from which to fish. So there are people around. And some of them make conversation.

Kenneth and his dog, Willie Nelson, stopping for a smoke and a pee (respectively) en route home from their babysitting gig. Dennis the retired priest who spent his career running a shelter for homeless men in Hartford. Chris the hunter with a code of ethics as strong as anyone I’ve ever met. And Esmerelda, a cormorant who has been lingering on the banks of the water, then hopping up and perching on the bows of some of the kayaks that paddle across her path.

If I’m not careful, before too long, this place will lose its function for me as a source of solitude. Like a coffee shop in the city, the more I go, the more I become one of the regulars.

But I’m not going to be careful. Because that’s also why I go — to think, to reflect, to work, sure — but also to become part of the culture of the spot, a member of the community.

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