The Quest For Solitude

Where do you go when you want to find some solitude time on an island that is the second most populated area in the world?  It can be a challenge.  In Jason’s case, he usually just tries to close the bedroom door for his solitude while Laura watches the baby but lately he’s been heading off to local malls to find a spot in Starbucks or one of the other coffee shops as soon as they open up during the week, when they aren’t full of people.  That is because he really has been needing to concentrate in order to work on essay questions for some applications for graduate course work that he would like to take and when he’s at home and hears the baby fussing, he feels like he should turn off the computer and go rescue Laura.

Laura has been so gracious about giving him some hours in the day to do that even when she isn’t feeling totally up to par herself because of morning sickness and I’ve been trying to take up the slack, helping with the baby as I can.  Sometimes I DO sneak off with Jason myself to enjoy some internet connection time and modern conveniences but I generally try to stay around closer to home when she needs me.

Today Jason headed off to a mall which I hadn’t visited before.  It is quite upscale and Jason wanted me to assure you all that he doesn’t frequent this mall on a regular basis.  He only went there to try to squeeze in some work time on those applications.  Laura and I stayed home in the morning and then took an angkut to the vicinity of the mall to meet up with him for lunch.

Jason had told Laura about a shortcut he had found from the point where the angkut drops you off to where the mall is located so Laura and I set off through a kampung’s winding passageways.  Oh, my!

I have to tell you that I am from the Great Plains area in the Midwest. On my grandparents’ farm, where I spent every summer, you could step out on the front porch and look out over a wide rolling prairie as far as the eye can see.  The vista was dotted with groves here and there which surrounded farm houses and outbuildings and tall grain elevators marked the town of Lismore, two miles away.  Nothing else marred my solitude.  I could sit under the old pine trees by the side of the road and watch the wind ruffle the grain in the fields.  The mooing of cows would occasionally carry on the breeze and the whistle of the freight train cutting through pastures might greet me but other than that, it was the perfect environment for someone who enjoys quiet.

A kampung is just not the kind of place where a prairie gal is going to feel comfortable.  Today we twisted and turned so much that I had no idea which direction we were going.  Sometimes we came to dead ends and had to ask people standing nearby which way we should go.  They were quite happy to give us directions even though they all seemed quite surprised to see two foreign women walking in their area.  I was really starting to feel claustrophobic in some spots where the buildings were so close together that it was as dark as night.  Jason’s shortcuts have a way of really challenging my sense of security.  However, we finally made it up a set of stone steps carved between two walls and found ourselves on a main road looking across at the mall entrance.

This mall had quite the selection of stores.  There was a Marks and Spencer, which I hadn’t been to since I was in London some years ago.  There were upscale fashion stores, lots of different restaurants, including an Australian Pancake House where we had lunch (and I had maple syrup which I haven’t had for ages, it seems), and there was even a Cold Stone Creamery. 

We popped into one store which is similar to our K-Marts in the States and as we came out, Laura pointed out a shop across the way where you could go to have fish nibble the dry skin off your feet.  No thanks!

As we were heading out, we stopped at one small food area so Jason and Laura could pick up some food to go.  To our delight, there were a bunch of big “snowmen” set up in the concourse with some type of fake snow pellets sprinkled around them.  Children were running around and through the display, laughing delightedly.  One small child plopped down and was enthusiastically making a “snow angel.”  We let Mika play in the “snow” for a few minutes and then she tired of that and decided that she would rather head over to the escalator.  She kept her momma hopping as she pointed again and again to “walk” that direction.  I think she would have crawled onto the thing and ridden it up to the next floor if we had let her.

When we finally made it out of the mall, we could not find a taxi no matter what we tried.  Jason suggested that we head back through the kampung shortcut and try to find a taxi on the other side of the area.  That’s just what we did.  Surely I should have earned my honorary “mountain goat” status today because I really did my fair share of scrambling over loose rocks, up and down steep stairways, over curbs, and across potholes and small ditches.  Again we had no luck finding a taxi so we ended up flagging another angkut and riding it back to our neighborhood where we hoofed it the rest of the way. 

As we walked in the door, I told Jason, “If you don’t mind, I’m going to go take off my shoes, grab a diet coke, put my feet up and read and that’s about all I’m going to be able to manage for awhile.”  That’s exactly what I did.  I even shut my bedroom door.  It was a blissful forty-five minutes of solitude.

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Hot Flashed Funk


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