Alone is alone. Not alive.
It’s the tagline from the Sondheim musical, Company. (Which I saw in NYC with NPH as the lead, just saying.) Ex Hubs has a local theatre company’s poster from their production framed and I looked at that tag line for years and thought it was heartbreaking and poignant each time.
I dig alone time. I can be really content being alone – at the movies, at my apartment watching tv, going to the gym, on occasion at a bar having a glass of wine. I don’t mind cooking for one or reading the newspaper for one. Sometimes I even prefer it because I like my food and my paper a certain way and doing it alone causes me no anxiety.
(…except, the thing is, sometimes I don’t care. I mean, I prefer to put the paper back together neatly, but 1. So do a lot of people. That’s not that weird. 2. Sometimes I don’t care. Is it all about the people I’m with? Why does it matter sometimes, and not others? An even odder revelation as I sit here and really think about this…it only matters the first time. The first time I read a paper with you I need you to know I like it to go back neat and orderly. But, if there’s a second time, it’s kind of fine. Whatever. It’s not hurting anyone. I might shuffle things back in order before picking them up, but I’m not mad at you if it’s out of whack. Do I need validation of my preference? What is this? This might be a whole other thing – the thing where I absolutely have to do things my weird way, but have no expectation ever that others would do it my weird way. Right? That’s normal. I digress…)
I enjoy people. Twice last week I had dinner plans with friends. One night it was a 1-1 dinner with a girlfriend who gabbed with me about boys and clothes and life and beer. The 2nd night out was with a friend of mine and she was bringing a colleague of hers. Technically, I was the crasher – the two of them had plans to try a Chinese restaurant with the best scotch selection in Columbus (no kidding) and my friend invited me along so I could make a new acquaintance. The three of us had a great time, we never stopped talking about books on the brain (I’m trying to figure out how my own works, mostly), OD work in university setting, Disney obsessions, how we started drinking wine, etc. We never stopped and it was not the “won’t they ever shut up” kind of never stopped talking, it was the “we couldn’t talk fast enough because it was so fun” kind of talking.
I think I’ve written before about balancing these aspects.
I love clever conversation and witty banter and interesting stories and learning about people. In that setting, I could be around people and really get energy from that situation.
If the conversation is monotonous, or closed minded (in my opinion), or really forced, I have no problem bowing out (sometimes politely, sometimes not) and spending my time alone.
Lonely is a whole other thing.
Lonely is knowing that witty conversation is happening somewhere and I can’t get to it. Lonely is the feeling that everyone else is with people they’d like to be with and it’s not you.
Maybe I don’t know how to define lonely, but a strange thing is happening. I’ve noticed it happening, but it wasn’t until D pointed it out that I have to acknowledge it. I start to cry, or tear up, (or, once it was brought to my attention – bravely just let my lip quiver a second before putting the smack down on the tears) when I say the word lonely. I’m like Pavlov’s dog. Lonely = Wah! Even thinking it. I’ve noticed this happening at work. I see a beautiful day outside and wish there were someone to meet for happy hour, or that I lived closer to a great walking park just so I could get out and I can feel tears spring to my eyes.
What is happening? What is wrong with me?
I have people. I have people I talk to pretty regularly. I text Claire, I call my sister, I tweet complete strangers. All of that makes me happy. I do all of that alone. I feel fine.
So, what is this lonely? Am I simply suffering from long-distance-relationships-suck-itis? Is it my subconscious telling me that I’m lonely in this relationship? Is it not relationship based at all, but just lingering transition anxiety? I’ve pretty much kicked the “I just moved here” syndrome. I have a long list of things I want to do in town, need to see, must eat at (of course), even trails I want to run. So…go do them, right?
Maybe I’ve already told this story (chances are, I have). I remember telling my grandparents I was moving in with Ex-Hubs. I thought it would be Grandpa who gave me the lecture. I was wrong – Grandma tells me I’m still young, I need my freedom, I don’t want to explain where I’m at all the time yet…. Grandpa simply says – it’s nice to have someone to do stuff with. Am I just aching for someone to do stuff with? And…how cheesy is that? But, I’m not getting any younger friends and more and more I see how life isn’t about the stuff, but about the experiences. And if no one is there to witness those experiences…are they like a tree falling in the woods? We need a witness to our lives. (I stole that line from a movie – can you guess it?!)
I’m really trying to put self-awareness to good use. I’m really trying to figure out who I am and what I stand for. I’d like to understand why I react the way I do and how do I know if I really feel what I’m saying I feel. I’m trying to merge all these Sarah’s (school Sarah, work Sarah, relationship Sarah, etc…) into one just Actual Sarah. Authentic is the buzz word right now and I’d like to get there. So, I just need to figure out what this lonely (where are the Kleenex!) trigger is all about. Sigh. Stay tuned…